DNA evidence used to establish paternity in case of soldier killed in Afghanistan

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Nice to see DNA evidence being used to establish a young mother’s right to name her baby’s father, a soldier killed in Afghanistan, on the birth certificate, and claim money from the army for her maintenance.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/dead-soldiers-fiance-wins-right-to-paternity-test-8352965.html

According to the Telegraph, 3 days ago (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9630850/Baby-girl-lost-father-on-frontline-then-abandoned-by-MoD.html):

Baby Lexie-Mai was left without a father when Private Daniel Wade was killed by a Taliban bomb attack in Afghanistan.

Pte Wade had been engaged to her mother Emma Hickman, who was six months pregnant when he died in action alongside five of his comrades.

Miss Hickman, 19, gave birth to Lexie-Mai three months later and believed the child would receive compensation from the military to help secure her future.

Instead, military officials refused the application for payment, claiming Pte Wade’s paternity could not be proved.”

The Times (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3612543.ece#commentsStart but behind paywall) reports today that the DNA test has now successfully proved that Private Daniel Wade was indeed the father of Emma Hickman’s baby, and the army will have to pay compensation. Good. A toast to Sir Alec Jeffreys, inventor of the technique of DNA fingerprinting. This is one of many potential injustices which have been prevented by his brilliant idea.

Richard

 


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13 COMMENTS

  1. Just another reason we should encourage our youth to run right out and join the military! Selling points are: 1. Uncle Sam will train you, as a combat medic, to stop bleeding and do cpr on a fellow soldier until a helicopter arrives to take said soldier to a hospital or emergency medical facility. However, you will receive NO certification and therefore on your return you won’t even be able to get a job as a school nurse 2. We will put you through unimaginable hell on the front lines for up to YEARS, but on your return we will not give you a cooling off period and psychoanalysis to make sure you are mentally prepared to re-enter society healthy. 3. We will put your loved ones through even more hell if you should die for us by denying death benefits and force them to go to court to prove biological paternity! Shame on our government! Shame!

  2. Please don’t confuse ‘the Army’ with the MoD.  There’s a huge difference.

    Not sure this is ‘compensation’ either: the British military does not pay blood money. There was no negligence involved. It is, quite correctly, financial support for a child.

    Thanks, Bluebird for pointing out logicalNcincy’s error.  Easy misake: there’s only the beret, the Regimental Standards, the uniform, and the fact it actually says ‘Yorkshire’ on Pte Wade’s uniform to go on …

    Deepest condolences to Ms Hickman, Pte Wade’s family, and the families of the mates who died with him.

  3. Are these ‘officials’ SO stupid, uneducated as to not know about DNA testing??

    “military officials refused the application for payment, claiming Pte Wade’s paternity could not be proved.”

  4. If they had been married would the question of paternity even have come up?

    This isn’t about the triumphs of science, with DNA being able to prove paternity this about old social rules still being applied in a modern society. In this case, the “sacred” union of marriage and people outside of it not having the same rights as those who are in a traditional marriage.

    I know the military where only following the law but it’s more that time for the laws to change to reflect the different unions that now exist in society. So in the future all couples and children can be compensated.

  5. On what evidence do you hold that the MoD was being mindful of the ‘sanctity of marriage’ in this case?
     
    Sorry, but that’s just nonsense, I’d say made up on the spot.
     
    The UK’s Ministry of Defence is a bureaucratic leviathan, with rules, procedures, and sometimes even its fair share of incompetence and stupidity.
     
    A soldier is killed by a large IED. Never pleasant. A lawyer or some other outsider comes along asking for money, and then tissue samples, for whatever reason.  The MoD’s first reaction might well be: “Who are you?” Perhaps understandably. Think about it (and remember family might just be reading this).  I find it difficult to get worked up over this story.

    As a testament to the wonders of modern science – in this case science being used to prevent an injustice – sure; I suspect that’s what the original intention of the article was. But to use the story as an excuse to criticise the military, absolutely not.

  6. To Mark Ribbands,

    I wasn’t critising the military in this case, they were just following the law. They didn’t do anything wrong, it was all by the book. It was the law that I was having a go at.

    What I meant was that some laws neded to change to reflect the different types of unions that exist in society today.

    I had a friend who was deployed overseas in a hurry so he got married before he left so that his wife and unborn child would be entitled to full benefits if anything did happen to him. He said that a girlfriend of one of his friends wasn’t entitled to full benefits or support for their child after the soldier died in combat because they weren’t married. So when I read this article I just got angry and saw red. A 19 year old shouldn’t have to go through any more hassle after the trauma of loosing the father of her child like that.

    The law is an ass.

    I hope that Emma gets all the help and support that she needs

  7. Understood, thanks for clarifying. 

    But your ‘friend-of-a-friend’ story: in which country was this? Are we talking about UK or US law here?  It’s very important, and on this site, which appears now primarily US-centric, it’s difficult to perceive who is from, or referring to, where!

    I’m an Englishman, but have been travelling so much lately I’ve lost touch with (and lost interest in) what the current UK position is.  My gut feeling is that UK law recognises fatherhood, especially where the child is clearly a British national, regardless of the marital status of the parents. But, as someone more eloquent that me once said, I do try not to think with my gut.

    Are there any lawyers on here who can provide a (pro bono!) opinion please?

  8. I have to agree with your question about marriage.  The military in this instance was questioning paternity simply because she was not married to the soldier.  If she had been married to him, this would not have come up, because that would be tantamount to accusing her of adultery. Apparently it’s okay to imply that a young unmarried woman is a skank.   
    Ironically, I remember reading somewhere about a study that claimed that a surprisingly high percentage of children of married couples were not actually fathered by the husband (and ‘m not talking about blended families with stepchildren).   If the military is going to demand proof of paternity in any instance, they should demand it in all beneficiary cases (except when the child was adopted by the couple or the result of surrogacy).

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