A British newspaper reported on Monday that Gordon Gentle, 19, died in Basra when his convoy was hit by a bomb in June, just before the formal handover of power to the interim Iraqi government from the US-led occupation.

His mother, Rose Gentle, believes his life could have been saved if his patrol had been equipped with an electronic signal jamming device to stop the bomb from being detonated.
 
The Guardian said the family's barrister, John Cooper, was optimistic the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had a case to answer.

"The MOD has a duty to provide soldiers with the equipment to protect themselves and carry out their duties with the minimum risk to themselves," Cooper said.

"If they do not provide that equipment, then that is a breach of their duty," Cooper said.

A ministry spokesman said he could not talk in detail about the defensive equipment provided to soldiers.

"We will obviously have to wait for any action Mrs Gentle wishes to take," the spokesman said. "We extend our sympathies to the family."

Talking rubbish

Gentle and her daughter Maxine, 14, walked out of a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott last week after delivering a letter demanding the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.

Gentle said Prescott had been talking "a lot of rubbish" and that she had felt "sick" when she received a letter of condolence from Prime Minister Tony Blair - seven weeks after losing her only son.

The MOD came under fire during the war from lawmakers who said it had failed to supply British troops with some of the equipment they needed, including basic items such as body armour.
 
The criticism was supported by a report last December by Britain's public spending watchdog which said troops had lacked vital pieces of equipment when they were sent to Iraq.

The MOD says 65 British soldiers have died in Iraq since the start of the US-led war in March 2003.