MoD pays £100k for blowing sniper ID

Blundering MoD officials blew commended army sniper Craig Harrison's identity to the media - and the MoD has now coughed up £100,000 in compensation. Harrison and his family had to quit the UK for fear of kidnap by Al Qaeda supporters.

The move led the sniper to be put on permanent sick leave - and a sizeable MoD bill for the taxpayer.

Steady hands

Harrison was a celebrated sniper having killed two Afghan rebels from a distance of 8,120 feet. In an interview he admitted the conditions of the two kills were close to perfect - mild weather, good visibility, little wind - besting a previous record of 7,972 feet. The official range of his L115A3 Long Range Rifle was closer to 4,920 feet, or just under a mile.

MoD rules are supposed to ensure all sniper IDs are kept secret, otherwise they risk becoming trophy targets for terrorists. "Craig was happy to talk to the media when he returned to the UK [from Afghanistan]," reported the Telegraph, "and everyone wanted to know about his amazing kill. But he never thought for a second his ID would be released."

Yet a few days after the interview, the police warned him he and his family were in danger. The upheaval for his family was considerable, with his wife abandoning her hairdressing job and his teenage daughter leaving school before taking GCSEs. Due to the ensuing stress, Harrison will now be medically discharged.

Enough for a new life?

"When compensation claims are received they are considered on the basis of whether or not the MoD has a legal liability to pay compensation," the MoD told the Mail. "Where there is a proven legal liability, compensation is paid."

But how much will £100,000 last? Not long given the rising housing costs in the UK (and increasingly elsewhere in Europe, if the family moves).

Harrison will likely need to retrain in a different profession. His wife will need to find a new job. The MoD has got off lightly, and an exceptional soldier has seen his professional and home life blown apart.

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