High-flying Afghanistan war veteran, 50, ‘who could’ve been a general’ sues MoD for £1.5m over career-ending injury sustained in sniper rifle training
- Catherine Braddick-Hughes, 50, served in the Army for 22 years until 2018
- She claims a shoulder injury received from a firing-range incident is to blame
- Ministry of Defence are disputing their liability for her injuries
An Afghanistan war hero is suing the Ministry of Defence for £1.5million over a firing range accident which ended her career.
Catherine Braddick-Hughes, 50, served in the Army for 22 years until her medical discharge in 2018. She was wounded in combat in Bosnia and Afghanistan.
The high-achieving officer, who ended up a lieutenant-colonel in the Army Legal Corps, suffered acute back injuries and leg damage after fighting in Afghanistan.
She was left with PTSD due to the horrors she suffered and witnessed.
Years earlier, she had been badly concussed after an incident while serving in Bosnia.
Afghanistan war hero, Catherine Braddick-Hughes, 50, is suing the Ministry of Defence for £1.5million over a firing range accident which ended her career
But Braddick-Hughes says it was a shoulder injury she sustained in a firing-range incident in July 2013, when a sniper rifle recoiled into her shoulder, that brought her career to a premature end.
Her legal team claim those in charge should have done more to ensure she was properly prepared for the firing exercise, but the MoD is disputing what it says is a ‘complex claim.’
Army lawyers do not accept that the firing range incident ended her career and are disputing liability for her injuries.
They accept she suffers from a number of health conditions, but say that ‘it’s unclear the extent to which they all played a part in the eventual discharge decision.’
At Central London County Court, the ex-soldier’s lawyers sketched out her massive £1.5million damages case, presenting evidence about her highly successful military career, suggesting she would have made general officer rank, but for the firing range injury.
There are currently 13 female general officers in the British Army, ranked brigadier or higher, the first ever having been appointed in 2015.
But the MoD claims her army career would probably have stalled anyway due to the effects of her mental trauma.
Charlotte Ventham, for the MoD, highlighted medical evidence suggesting Ms Braddock-Hughes had been suffering from PTSD for some time and added: ‘At the moment we have our doctor saying that her PTSD made her unfit for military service.’
Braddick-Hughes, from Bath, has in the past spoken about her battle to come to terms with the legacy of PTSD.
She turned to art, moulding clay figures evoking war and bloodshed to help deal with her memories, and commented: ‘I came back broken, not able to carry on as the same person. I grieved for that loss.
‘Finding a new enjoyment and expression in clay has helped me start my journey to decide who I can be or who I want to be.’
Supported by Help for Heroes, she said that working with clay enabled her to get back on track.
‘When I came back home and tried to get back to normality it didn’t happen. I’d be walking the dog and then I’d feel I was in Afghanistan, responding to threats we faced there. It’s scary.
‘I was given some clay and I started moulding it – it was amazing how quickly I found that it would quiet my thoughts.
‘I feel that part of me is still out there reliving – every hour of every day – and my body responds as though it is real.
‘I consciously have to think about the here and now, but when I started moulding clay I felt silence.’
She went on to become one of the ‘faces’ of the charity WARpaint – an art project raising funds for serving veterans – and an ambassador for Help for Heroes.
Her full-length portrait was painted by the charity’s founder, the artist Caroline de Peyrecave.
At the end of the court hearing, Judge Alan Saggerson adjourned the case for lawyers to gather more medical evidence.
No date has yet been fixed for the full trial of her damages claim.