Ex-soldier sues for £1m, claiming cold weather on duty means he now needs central heating on all year

Macmillan Awumee - Champion News
Macmillan Awumee - Champion News

A Ghanaian soldier who claims his ethnicity makes him more vulnerable to the cold is suing the MoD for £1 million.

Macmillan Awumee, who served in the Royal Corps of Logistics, claims his exposure to the cold while on duty left him with ailments that mean he needs his central heating on all year round, the High Court heard.

Mr Awumee travelled from his homeland of Ghana to join the British Army in 2011 after following his "childhood dream" to become a soldier.

He expected to make the Army his long-term career, but was medically discharged eight years later having suffered non-freezing cold injuries while on winter duty in 2017.

His cold injuries caused chronic pain, tingling and numbness to his extremities, as well as triggering depression.

He also says his condition has left him feeling the cold more than other people and has left him exposed to high energy bills because he now has to turn up his central heating "both in winter and summer".

Mr Awumee, 41, who lives in Southampton, is now suing the MoD for over £1 million in damages, claiming far more should have been done to protect him from the cold while he performed his duties.

The court heard that he attributes his diminished physical state to an overnight shift carried out in February 2017, during which he was exposed to "prolonged wet and cold conditions" while loading military supplies on to a ship.

"As a result, he developed non-freezing cold injuries to his hands and feet," Paul Kilcoyne, his barrister, wrote in court documents.

Macmillan Awumee - Champion News
Macmillan Awumee - Champion News

Mr Kilcoyne said his client was especially vulnerable since he is a "black African with an ethnicity known to be more prone to the development of non-freezing cold injuries if exposed to cold, damp or freezing conditions".

The ex-soldier's symptoms of pain and numbness are now mainly confined to the winter, but his barrister explained: "He has a requirement for extra warm clothing and a requirement for increased domestic heating both in winter and in summer".

His symptoms were made worse by a back injury which occurred while he was laying and removing tracks for an infantry beach training exercise, and he is now also dogged by "ongoing back pain".

His fragile state is said to have left him depressed and anxious, made worse by knowing that his Army career had ended.

The ex-soldier's lawyers claim his superiors failed to provide sufficient cold weather kit - particularly in the form of gloves and warm boots - but the MoD is denying fault.

Andrew Ward, barrister for the MoD, pointed out that Mr Awumee would have received training on dealing with cold weather conditions, and was issued with Army kit designed to withstand extreme weather.

The temperature on the night his hands and feet were numbed was above freezing and evidence suggested that conditions were not wet, said Mr Ward.

Mr Awumee had in fact lost his Army career due to an ankle injury accidentally sustained in 2015, which left him unable to "run, jump hop or squat," he claimed.

The case reached court for a brief pre-trial hearing and will now return for trial at a later date.