Ex-soldier sues MoD claiming loud weapons damaged his hearing

Ex-soldier, 41, sues Ministry of Defence for £700,000 because loud machine guns, grenades and rocket launchers damaged his hearing

  • Alistair Black, 41, claims noise from weapons including machine guns, grenades and rocket launchers has left him with noise-induced deafness and tinnitus 
  • Former soldier is suing the Ministry of Defence for £715,366 citing negligence 
  • Mr Black was medically discharged from the army with hearing loss in 2017

A former soldier from Glasgow has launched a High Court claim for more than £700,000 against the Ministry of Defence claiming that gunfire played a role in his loss of hearing.

Alistair Black, 41, says in a writ issued at the court in London that he now needs digital hearing aids after being exposed to high levels of noise during his 21 years of army service.

The writ says that when he joined the army his hearing was perfect but that he now he suffers from noise induced deafness and tinnitus.

He claims this is as a result of the noise from weapons including machine guns, rifles, grenades, rocket launchers, and from travelling in military transport.

Now Mr Black, from Glasgow, is suing the MoD for damages of £715,366.22 accusing it of negligence.

Ex-soldier Alistair Black is suing the Ministry of Defence for more than £700,000 claiming that loud noises from weapons including machine guns damaged his hearing loss (stock image)

Mr Black says he joined the Army in 1996 and was sent to Northern Ireland nine times, where he was exposed to loud noise each time he zeroed his weapon.

He also served in Germany, Bosnia, Kenya, Kosovo, Iraq, the Falklands, Cyprus, and Afghanistan before being medically discharged with noise-induced hearing loss in March 2017.

Mr Black accuses the MoD of negligently failing to provide adequate noise protection, failing to provide ear protection which fitted properly with his helmet, and failing to provide earplugs and earmuffs to be worn at the same time.

The MoD is also accused of negligently failing to warn him of the dangers of exposure to excessive noise and failing to order him to wear ear protectors whenever he was likely to be exposed to loud noise.

The writ goes on to claim the MoD failed to heed information and warnings in medical and industrial publications of which it should have been aware, relating to the effects of noise on hearing.

Mr Black says that he was exposed to excessive noise soon after joining the Army, and that during a live firing exercise at Catterick in 1997 he was ordered by instructors to leave one side of his ear defenders off so he could hear instructions.

In his last weeks of basic training, he says he was told his hearing was poor and that he could not continue with his unit until assessed at hospital.

He was put in a holding platoon for two months and continued to be exposed to noise during exercises, as he did not wear hearing protection, he says. 

Mr Black claims that during a live firing exercise at Catterick Garrison (pictured) in 1997 he was ordered by instructors to leave one side of his ear defenders off so he could hear instructions

The writ says that although he was generally office-based from 2000 until the end of his army career in 2017, he was still exposed among other things to noise when he took part in annual weapons training, during exercises, and on fieldcraft exercises. 

Mr Black’s claim has technically been issued outside the normal time limits the law allows for claims to be launched but he is asking the court to allow his claim to proceed despite this.

He says he did not realise he could claim until he received a response after posting a reference about his medical discharge on a veterans’ website.

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