Soldiers arrested on drug, money-lending and money-laundering offences

By Mary O'Connor & Joseph Lee
BBC News

  • Published
Irish GuardsImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Irish Guards were founded in 1900 by Queen Victoria

Six soldiers and a veteran have been arrested on suspicion of drug, money-lending and money-laundering offences, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The MoD said six Irish Guards troops and a Coldstream Guardsman veteran were arrested by the Royal Military Police as part of a "planned operation".

The 1st Battalion Irish Guards are set to lead Thursday's Trooping the Colour for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The MoD said none of the soldiers under investigation would take part.

A defence source confirmed to the BBC that items suspected to be drugs were seized in a raid at Mons Barracks in Aldershot on Wednesday.

The soldiers range in rank from guardsman to sergeant. Three of the suspects remain in custody, while police continue their investigations into allegations that all seven were involved in supplying drugs.

The arrests were the result of an intelligence-led operation, which started earlier this year and involved civilian as well as military police, the BBC was told.

As the barracks raid was taking place at about 06:30 BST on Wednesday, a house in Windsor was also raided.

Searches were also carried out at properties in north Wales and Northern Ireland, where a source told the BBC one of the arrests took place.

Founded in 1900 by Queen Victoria, the Irish Guards have been deployed as part of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The regiment - which counts the Duke of Cambridge as its royal colonel - also guards royal palaces, where they can be seen wearing the distinctive red tunic and bearskin hat.

Last week, Prince William presented the Irish Guards with new colours - a flag that acts as a rallying point for troops - ready for them to lead the parade on the Queen's birthday as the Platinum Jubilee weekend begins.

In a statement, the MoD said: "None of the soldiers under investigation will participate in planned Queen's Platinum Jubilee parades.

"The Army does not tolerate any type of illegal or fraudulent behaviour. As this is now the subject of an independent Royal Military Police investigation, it is inappropriate to comment further."