Any soldier seeking to join the SAS would know that if accepted for the elite regiment they might one day have to lay down their lives in the course of their duty. This is a risk they and the families of soldiers understand. But how many could imagine this happening, not on a dangerous and secret mission far from home, but in the Brecon Beacons of Wales? How many could imagine it happening before they had even been accepted for the world-famous Special Forces regiment? 

In July 2013, three soldiers on an arduous SAS selection exercise collapsed in 30 degree heat. Two of them, Trooper Eddie Maher and Lance Corporal Craig John Roberts, died that day. The third, Corporal James Dunsby, died 17 days later. All three were experienced soldiers used to serving in hot conditions.

The Coroner and the Ministry of Defence agreed that the soldiers’ right to life under the Human Rights Act (Article 2) meant that a full inquiry must be held on whether their deaths could have been prevented. Under the Human Rights Act when somebody dies in circumstances in which the state might be involved, there should be a full investigation into their death.

So it was that the SAS, motto “Who Dares Wins”, found itself the subject of a criminal investigation, looking at whether there had been gross negligence. Ultimately, there was no prosecution but the regiment was ordered to examine how it conducts its selection exercises. The often unspoken role of the Human Rights Act in making sure there are full and proper investigations of Government decision-making is vital for making sure our democracy is fair and accountable.