Raw Deal: The SAS veteran, the missing medals and a bitter battle which could yet end in court

Irvine Gibson's home was damaged by fire with his medals destroyed (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans)
Irvine Gibson's home was damaged by fire with his medals destroyed (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans)

WAR veteran Irvine Gibson is locked in a three-year battle with an insurance company after medals went missing following a devastating blaze.

The military hero, 60, lost everything when fire ripped through his property while he was away looking after his elderly mother.

Compounding his anguish, two prestigious medals went AWOL in the aftermath.

Since the January 2015 fire, the former soldier has been wrangling with Admiral Insurance over the value of a South Atlantic Medal, awarded for his distinguished service in the Falklands, and a General Service medal bestowed for peacekeeping duties in Northern Ireland.

Irvine in his army days

These could not be recovered by Rainbow International, the firm contracted by Admiral to clean up his home after the fire, he claimed.

“My medals were kept in a safe place and would not have been destroyed by the fire,” said Irvine, who had to quit the military after serious injuries sustained during a five-year stint with the SAS left him with impaired vision and hearing.

“They were wrapped in linen inside a wooden box, inside a wardrobe drawer full of socks, and undoubtedly protected from any smoke damage.

“But I soon found out that several items of material and sentimental value were not on the inventory list of recovered property, including my two campaign medals.” The 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment veteran of Abergavenny in Wales was compensated by Admiral for fire damage.

But he later appealed to the ombudsman about his missing medals.

Irvine got in touch with Raw Deal about the issue (Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans)

In April, he received a written apology from Admiral chief executive David Stevens for the way his claim had been handled.

The ombudsman accepted that the medals were in Irvine’s house at the time of the fire and awarded him £134 – the cost of obtaining replacements from the Ministry of Defence.

Still “very unhappy”, arguing the replacements would only be worth a fraction of the originals, Irvine opted to pursue legal action against Admiral, citing the medals’ sentimental value.

Last month, Irvine wrote to Raw Deal to ask if we could help resolve the matter. We asked the company to investigate further.

Got a consumer problem? The Sunday Post’s Raw Deal team can help

Admiral pointed out it had already awarded Irvine compensation for his distress and inconvenience, including an amount covering the loss of another of his medals.

A spokesperson said: “Firstly, we would like to say we are sorry that Mr Gibson is unhappy with the service he has received.

“It is never our intention to provide unsatisfactory service to any of our customers.”

The company has now indicated it would be willing to explore an out-of-court resolution. Irvine is now considering an offer, tabled by Admiral’s solicitors last week, of £3,500 for his medals.

“This has never been all about the money, it is a matter of principle,” he said.

“I want it to be recognised by the insurers that my medals went missing and that these were of considerable sentimental value to me.

“I can’t thank Raw Deal enough for stepping in and helping to try to sort out what has been a very long-running and stressful saga.”