By Georgina Stubbs, Press Association
An Army veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an RAF aircraft plummeted from the sky has won hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.
The man, known as Soldier B, was flying on an RAF Voyager from the UK to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan when the jet went into a “terrifying” nosedive with 187 passengers on board.
It was caused by the pilot’s personal camera becoming jammed in flight deck equipment, with the aircraft dropping 4,400ft (1,341m) in a matter of seconds before eventually being brought under control.
The incident on February 9 2014 over the Black Sea led to Soldier B suffering PTSD, a depressive episode, a phobic anxiety disorder and a specific anxiety disorder, and ongoing anxiety.
As a result of his injuries, he was discharged from the Army in 2017, Hilary Meredith Solicitors said.
Simon Quinn, spokesman for the law firm, said: “This terrifying ordeal was entirely avoidable. Our client was convinced he was going to die – as were those around him.
“As a result of the sudden and unexpected dive, Soldier B was thrown around and suffered soft tissue injuries.
“The Ministry of Defence, like all employers, has a duty of care to their employees and must take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and well-being.
“The settlement we have reached in this case demonstrates how the Ministry of Defence failed in its duty of care to Soldier B.”
RAF pilot Flight Lieutenant Andrew Townshend pleaded guilty to negligently performing a duty in relation to the Nikon D5300 DSLR camera colliding with the aircraft’s control stick.
He was dismissed from the service and handed a suspended prison sentence in March last year.
Bulford Military Court heard that up to 48 personnel were left unfit for duty following the incident, with the co-pilot, Flight Lieutenant Nathan Jones, suffering fractures to his spine.
Townshend, who had completed 5,500 flying hours, said during proceedings that he had been “bored” and had been stargazing and taking photos with his camera.
The court heard that many of the crew and passengers thought they were going to die when the Voyager aircraft plummeted, causing some to be thrown weightless into the air and crash into the ceiling.
Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told the Daily Mirror: “I would not compare this with an injury sustained in battle.
“These troops were heading into a war zone, I would expect them to be more robust. This payout seems extremely high.”
An MoD spokesman said: “We carefully consider all claims and pay compensation where we have a legal obligation to do so.
“As litigation is currently ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”