Hoon facing sack calls over kit delays

A coroner issuing a verdict on the murder of a British soldier in Iraq has slammed the government for failing to provide proper body armour for army personnel calling it 'inexcusable and unforgivable.' The damning comments came as Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is fighting for his political life with calls from Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox for Tony Blair to sack the Cabinet Minister. Liam Fox said that there was something 'wholly wrong' with government not doing their duty for army personnel and claims the buck stops with Mr Hoon and Mr Blair. He said: 'The story of this government's defence policy is too little too late. In a more honourable government, it would have resulted in resignations.' Sgt Steven Roberts, from West Yorkshire died in a 'friendly fire' incident when he was manning a checking point in March 2003. His wife had been campaigning for an inquiry into the death of her husband for years. Widow Samantha Roberts, said: 'The single most important point is that Steven wasn't wearing combat armour when he was shot. If he had had that Steve would be with us today.' 167 pieces of equipment were delayed as 2000 soldiers failed to be given the essential equipment for battle. Oxfordshire Deputy Corroner Andrew Walker, said: 'To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view unforgivable and inexcusable.' Government claim that the reason for the delay in issuing body armour was that the enemy would realise that war was imminent. For the family of Sgt Roberts, it is too little too late as the Ministry of Defence have said that since March 2004, all soldiers have been deployed with their own combat body armour.