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US bars experts from anti-MoD testimony

Clare Dyer and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday March 4, 2002

The Guardian

The Pentagon has stopped the world's two leading experts on combat stress from giving evidence for 254 ex-servicemen with post-traumatic stress disorder in their action against the Ministry of Defence, which opens today at the high court in London.

Matthew Friedman, a psychiatrist, and Terence Keane, a psychologist, are both US government employees, working in the department of veterans affairs. They have delivered hefty reports to the claimants' solicitors and were to have been key witnesses. But the US defence department has vetoed their attendance.

A source close to the case said: "The Pentagon doesn't see any advantage to their coming. What they don't want is the bad publicity of reports of them slagging off the Americans' main allies."

Mr Justice Owen, the judge trying the case, is angry, but the pair cannot be subpoenaed because they are outside English jurisdiction.

The case is the biggest to be brought against the MoD. It could cost the services up to 500m if they lose, and tens of millions even if they win.

The ex-soldiers, veterans of combat in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf and Bosnia, claim the MoD was negligent in failing to prepare them for battle, to screen out vulnerable individuals, to debrief them properly, to recognise and treat PTSD, and to help them cope with their return to civilian life.

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