'Our Soldiers Were Defeated Not by Taliban Terrorists but by the Lack of Equipment' - CORONER ANDREW WALKER YESTERDAY; SCANDAL OF JAMES' DEATH

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Byline: By CHRIS HUGHES Security Correspondent

UK soldiers were sent to fight the Taliban without basic equipment in an "unforgivable breach of trust", an angry coroner said yesterday.

Andrew Walker spoke out after 7 Para Captain James Philippson, 29, died in a firefight in Afghanistan in which troops were "totally out-gunned" by the terrorists.

An inquest was told that before the fighting the Paras had repeatedly complained about lack of proper equipment, chiefly standard night vision kits and weaponry.

Even after Capt Philippson's death, the much-needed equipment did not arrive, the hearing heard.

Recording that Capt Philippson was unlawfully killed, Mr Walker said: "The soldiers were defeated not by the terrorists but by the lack of basic equipment.

"To send men into a combat zone without basic equipment is unforgivable, inexcusable and a breach of trust between the soldiers and those who govern them."

Capt Philippson's father Anthony, of St Albans, Herts, said later: "I hold the MoD responsible for James's death. But the Treasury and then Chancellor Gordon Brown are really to blame for what happened. The MoD was starved of cash."

Capt Philippson was shot in the head after a force was sent to retrieve an unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle at Sangin, in southern Helmand province.

Surviving colleagues told the inquest at Oxford there were only three or four night vision kits between as many as 30 men.

They were also not given enough machine guns.

Meanwhile the Taliban forces had multiple rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other firepower.

Commanding officer Major Johnny Bristow agreed this had led to the British being "totally out-gunned". …