This is the final episode of the mini-series. The story so far – I want the measurements for a box. The Ministry of Defence have said I can’t have it, actually when you put it like that it this doesn’t sound very interesting does it? Okay. This is a story about one mans valiant attempt to take on the giants of government, seeking the truth from the mysterious and dark world of the Ministry of Defence in the hope that others may have a more dignified final ceremony … (say this in an american Hollywood voice-over style for more effect).
After the last set back I thought I would try one last-ditch attempt.
* I spelt this wrong in my original email and now trying to cover up my ignorance.
Anyway you will see my tone has become a bit less reverent although I hope not rude in anyway.
I got the following response.
14 January 2014
Dear Mr Martin,
Thank you for your email of 9 January 2014 regarding our response to your FOI request (FOI 18-112013-135322-002
It is regretful that the response to your FOI request has not met your expectations. However your most recent email indicates
to me a misunderstanding of the process that the MOD instigates on the loss of a Serviceman or woman.
I hope to clarify this herewith.
As I explained in my first letter to you, when an individual dies during their Service, they are provided
with a military funeral (or cremation) if their next-of-kin (NOK) indicates a desire for such. A military funeral is paid for by the MOD and follows specific rules as set out Volume 2 of Joint Service Publication (JSP) 751. If the NOK prefers to have a private (non military) funeral or cremation, they are free to do so, and the MOD will offer assistance, including financial support for this, also stipulated in JSP751. A grieving family who wished to make use of the services provided by your company for a private ceremony would have the freedom of choice to do so.
The NOK and family are provided with a serving, commissioned ‘Visiting Officer’ (VO) to help them with these arrangements, and therefore have access to the advice they might need. The VO has appropriate training and ready access to JSP751, so I do not fully follow your line that, were we able, to provide you with information contained in the JSP it would better ‘satisfy the wishes of the armed forces’. This, when compared to a fully trained and briefed VO (who would most likely be familiar with the area the deceased was posted to).
I turn now to our advice that JSP751 is exempt for release under the FOI Act 2000. This document remains at a restricted level due to the sensitivity of the subject and is kept under constant review; government policy influences, and may be influenced by, the JSP in question. The FOIA does not require us to justify our refusal to release or declassify the document further.
Should you wish to make a contribution to a defence charity, that choice is yours and whichever one you were to choose would be undoubtedly grateful; however, it will have no bearing on nor alter the advice provided to you.
Mr X X XXXXXXXXX
Defence Personnel Secretariat
Oh – Oh well never mind. At this point, slightly exasperated, I decided to throw in the towel.
Dear Mr XXXXXXXXXXXXXX