England

Murdered Red Cap mother Pat Long calls for new inquiry

Top, from left: Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell; Corporal Russell Aston; Corporal Paul Graham Long. Bottom, from left: Corporal Simon Miller; Lance-Corporal Benjamin Hyde; Lance-Corporal Thomas Keys.
Image caption The six men were all based at Goojerat Barracks in Colchester, Essex

The mother of a British military policeman murdered with five others by a mob in Iraq nearly nine years ago is calling for an inquiry into the deaths.

Cpl Paul Long, 24, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, died with his colleagues at a police station in Majar al-Kabir, Maysan, southern Iraq, in 2003.

A number of inquiries have been held into what happened.

But Cpl Long's mother Pat said they were "inadequate" and is asking for a Ministry of Defence (MOD) inquiry.

In October last year, two Iraqi men were cleared by Baghdad's criminal court of murdering the Red Caps due to lack of evidence.

The Red Caps who died alongside Cpl Long were L/Cpl Benjamin Hyde, of Northallerton, North Yorkshire; Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, of Chessington, Surrey; Cpl Russell Aston, 30 of Swadlincote, Derbyshire; L/Cpl Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales; and Cpl Simon Miller, 21, of Washington in Tyne and Wear.

Mrs Long's legal team, from the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, has written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond calling for a fresh inquiry.

'Obvious defects'

The 25-page letter states: "At present, Mrs Long feels a strong sense of injustice, that the questions she has about her son's death have not been properly answered and that, importantly, the lack of any accountability for the situation in which her son was placed does not do justice for her son.

"The circumstances of the deaths in this case reveal obvious defects in the systems which ought reasonably be expected to be in place to protect the lives of British soldiers."

The men had been training local Iraqi officers when the police station came under attack.

An inquest in March 2006 heard that some of their bodies were found riddled with bullets, while others had marks that suggested they had been dragged, tied up or beaten with rifles.

The hearing was told that the Red Caps were not equipped with Iridium satellite telephones to call for help, despite a direct order from their commanding officer that all units leaving base must carry one.

This was due to a shortage of supplies, the hearing heard.

Oxfordshire Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, saying the six soldiers should have been better equipped but their deaths could not have been avoided.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that we have received a pre-action protocol letter from Public Interest Lawyers.

"We will consider the letter carefully and respond in due course. Our thoughts remain with the families of the six soldiers who lost their lives."

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