Army Spokesperson Colonel Jim Taylor (HQ Field Army, Training branch) said:
I would like to make a statement on behalf of the Army following the outcome of this Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of Corporal Matthew Hatfield and Corporal Darren Neilson.
While the Inquest has provided their families with answers as to what happened on 14th June 2017, I know it will not take away the pain of losing their loved ones. Their pain is shared by all of us in the Army, especially friends and comrades in their Regiment with whom they had created such strong bonds.
We cannot change what has happened, but we have learnt lessons from it so we can prevent this from ever happening again.
We have looked long and hard at what happened on that tragic day. As a result, we have already made changes to our training. We have strengthened our drills, reinforcing the pre-firing checks, and we are considering the viability of an additional safety mechanism so that the gun cannot be physically fired unless safe to do so.
We have also made changes to the way a vehicle is handed over to another crew. This will ensure the new crew is in no doubt whether the gun is in a safe or unsafe state. Our technical publications and training materials have already been amended. We are also conducting a full review of the Personal Protective Equipment to be worn by armoured vehicle crews.
We will now examine what further changes need to be made in light of the Coroner’s findings.
Matthew Hatfield and Darren Neilson were capable and intelligent soldiers. While we feel their loss keenly, our thoughts remain with their families. We hope the Coroner has given them some of the answers they were seeking. We are sincerely sorry for what has happened and we will do everything we can to ensure this never happens again.