Belfast Telegraph

Security man wins damages ruling

A Co Kerry security consultant who suffered multiple injuries in a road crash in Iraq has won his battle to have his damages case heard in the English courts.

Tony Harty, 34, who served in the Royal Irish Rangers in Northern Ireland and Kosovo until 2002, was recruited by Sabre International Security in August 2007.

In August 2008 he was seriously hurt when an armoured vehicle in which he was travelling in a high speed convoy left the road and hit a drainage culvert in Baghdad after a tyre deflated.

He was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany before convalescing with his wife and son in England, and has now moved back to his family in County Kerry because of his inability to work.

Sabre asked the High Court to rule that it had no jurisdiction to decide the claim arising out of the company's alleged negligence, and that it must be heard in Iraq.

Mr Justice MacDuff, sitting in London, dismissed Sabre's case, commenting: "I am satisfied to a very high standard of proof that the defence position has been manufactured, shaped over a period of time, and is wholly disingenuous."

Mr Harty claimed that his contract was with the British Virgin Islands (BVI) registered company of Sabre International Security (formerly SIS Iraq Ltd), which, under the Coalition Provisional Authority Order, cannot be sued in Iraq.

But Sabre said that a sister company, also called Sabre International Security Ltd but registered in Iraq, had organised the convoy and any claim could only be brought against it there.

Mr Harty's counsel told the judge that it defied belief that Sabre would arrange its affairs so that Mr Harty and others working on a Sabre security convoy in hostile territory would not take advantage of the immunity which was available.

Even more remarkable, he added, would be an arrangement which would not protect Sabre itself from prosecution or civil claims as the whole purpose of the immunity was to allow foreign companies and nationals to work on contracts within Iraq without fear of prosecution.

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