A SOLDIER from Tidworth has launched a £300,000 compensation claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) claiming he was injured as a result of being exposed to cold conditions.

Zakri Joseph, 35, expects to be medically discharged from the Army soon after developing a condition called non freezing cold injury through his service according to a writ issued at London’s High Court and just made publicly available.

Mr Joseph, from the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment, accuses the MoD of failing to warn him that he was more at risk than others of developing the condition, because of his ethnicity. Individuals of black and Caribbean heritage are more likely to contract the condition, which can affect them for the rest of their lives.

He first developed numb feet during basic training at Catterick, but largely recovered from this and continued to serve on several winter tours, says the writ.

However, in November 2016 he joined Exercise Black Hackle in Scotland, with temperatures plunging to minus 6 degrees C, on a fortnight’s exercise which involved nights in the field, sleeping under a poncho, and staying in an essentially unheated open hangar.

Mr Joseph says he was unable to keep his feet dry, and after a couple of days, developed symptoms in his hands and feet. However, he says his platoon sergeant told him to man up.

And when he complained of his symptoms to a sergeant, he says he was told to stick it out, as the company were facing a review, and it would reflect badly on the company if anyone was sent back to camp.

His condition is said to have worsened when he was sent on an AASA stores course, sleeping in a six-bed dormitory that was very cold, and using cold showers. And although he visited a nearby gym to take his hot showers, at his own expense that didn’t help.

Mr Joseph, of Paget Close, Tidworth, who is originally from St Vincent, says the MoD failed to warn him of his increased vulnerability, because of his ethnicity, or give him extra training, instruction or information.

He says he was given the same equipment as others who were not so vulnerable and accuses the MoD of negligence, in failing to train or instruct his commanders highlighting his vulnerability to non freezing cold injury.

He also accuses them of failing to provide him with specialist clothing and insulated boots, failing to take him off the exercise when he complained of cold injuries, failing to obtain immediate medical treatment, and returning him to working and exercising in cold conditions.

He says he was also negligently given unsuitable personal protective equipment, and not enough hot food and drinks regularly, which would have reduced the risk of developing the condition.

The writ says the MoD negligently fostered an environment in which NCOs and officers were reluctant to cut short or abort exercises, and discouraged recruits from dropping out of exercises.

Mr Joseph has to take painkillers regularly to manage his symptoms, and is disadvantaged on the open labour market, his claim says.

An MoD spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Zakri Joseph has brought a claim against the Ministry of Defence. The health and wellbeing of our Armed Forces is our utmost priority and all personnel receive the training and kit they need to deal with cold conditions.

“As proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”