Relatives of three British soldiers killed when a US jet mistakenly dropped a bomb on their position in Afghanistan expressed anger last night at moves to keep some elements of what happened secret. A six-day inquest concluded with the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner, David Masters, promising to write to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to make a series of recommendations to try to prevent such a tragedy happening again. But at the end of the hearing, the families of the three soldiers said they felt let down that the Pentagon had not released a copy of a report on the incident and were unhappy that, in their eyes, the MoD had backed the American stance. The hearing was told how an error over grid co-ordinates resulted in an American F-15 dropping a 500lb bomb on British soldiers instead of on Taliban fighters a kilometre away. Privates Aaron McClure, Robert Foster, both 19, and John Thrumble, 21, were all killed instantly. Sergeant Mark Perren, the British forward air controller (FAC) who called in the air strike, had not noticed that the American weapons systems operator on board the jet had read back co-ordinates that tallied with the position of British soldiers rather than enemy forces. After the narrative verdict was returned, the families of the three men said they had forgiven Perren and admired him for giving evidence openly at the inquest. John Foster, the father of one of the victims, Private Robert Foster, said of Perren: "He was the scapegoat, the fall guy." It emerged during the hearing that the Pentagon had refused to allow the inquest to have a copy of a report it drew up into the tragedy. The coroner had seen it but not taken notes. Masters said in court it was "difficult" to understand why the Americans had not released the report. The families had hoped a British officer who helped draw up the American report would be called but in the end he did not appear. Allan McClure, the uncle of another of the men who died, Private Aaron McClure, said his family felt "let down and upset", adding: "We're supposed to be on the same team. We feel the British government has been trying to cover the backside of the Americans. It hurts." The inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, heard criticism of Perren for not following strict procedures for calling in the strike. Masters highlighted the fact that Perren did not have a headset for his radio, though he wanted one, but had to rely on just a handset. One military report concluded the lack of a headset was a "significant contributory factor". Headsets are now issued. The coroner noted that 39 recommendations had been made after the accident. Of these, action had been taken on 26 and 13 were ongoing. Afterwards, on behalf of all the families, Foster's mother, Lisa Foster, said the verdict was the end of a "heartbreaking journey," adding: "Our pride in our sons knows no bounds." The MoD said: "All witnesses answered the coroner's questions as transparently and honestly as they could." (The Guardian)