A COMPLETE review of all correspondence undertaken by the Ministry of Defence with bereaved families has been launched.
The move follows the outrage caused when the family of Earby soldier Lance Corporal Jordan Bancroft received a letter saying the department was clawing back money paid to him in the days after his death.
The letter devastated his parents at a time when they said they were just beginning to come to terms with what had happened.
After receiving the letter, his father Tony Bancroft said it had felt like a “jab in the eye”, especially since members of the family and many friends had tirelessly raised thousands of pounds for the Help for Heroes and Duke of Lancashire Regiment charity, in which he had served.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson raised the issue in Parliament and asked the Defence Secretary what assessment he had made of his department’s treatment of Jordan’s parents.
In a written answer, Andrew Robathan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, said: “The Ministry of Defence regrets any unintended insensitivity on its part and a complete review of all the correspondence undertaken by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency with bereaved families has been instigated.
“It is departmental policy never to ask the families of those killed in service to pay money back.
“Our aim is always to ensure families receive the right amount of money as quickly as possible and to conduct a reconciliation of their pay accounts as soon as we have all the information available to us.
“We do not collect any money from the families of deceased personnel, but we do adjust future payments to ensure families receive all the money to which they are entitled; this includes a payment for any unspent days of leave.”
Speaking after receiving the written answer, Mr Stephenson said: “I raised the issue directly with the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, when it initially happened and got a response from him that was very similar to this.
“Given the enormous sacrifice that our brave soldiers like Jordan have made, I still think this seems like penny pinching in the extreme, especially when you consider the size of the defence budget.
“Having said that, it is encouraging that they have said they are reviewing all their correspondence. They’ll never be able to make amends with Jordan’s family but they must ensure it never happens again and another family has to go through that.”
L/Cpl Bancroft (25), described by his colleagues as a “lion of England”, was killed in a gunfight with insurgents while members of his Regiment protected an important meeting between Afghan elders and soldiers in Helmand province in August, 2010.