Three British soldiers sent home after protesting at civilian deaths
Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday March 31, 2003
The Guardian

Three British soldiers in Iraq have been ordered home after objecting to the conduct of the war. It is understood they have been sent home for protesting that the war is killing innocent civilians.

The three soldiers - including a private and a technician - are from 16 Air Assault Brigade which is deployed in southern Iraq.  Its task has been to protect oilfields.

The brigade includes the Ist and 3rd battalions of the Parachute Regiment, the 1st battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, a Royal Horse Artillery regiment, and a reconnaissance squadron of the Household Cavalry.

The three soldiers, based in Colchester, Essex, face court martial and are seeking legal advice, defence sources said yesterday.

The Ministry of Defence said it was not prepared to comment on individual cases.  It said it had "no evidence" to suggest the soldiers had been sent home for refusing to fight.

Soldiers could be returned home for a number of reasons, including compassionate and medical, as well as disciplinary grounds, defence sources said.  But it is understood that the three soldiers have  been sent home for complaining about the way the war is being fought and the growing danger to civilians.

The fact that they are seeking legal advice makes it clear they have been sent home for refusing to obey orders rather than because of any medical or related problems such as shell shock. [War ministry] lawyers were understood last night to be anxiously trying to discover the circumstances surrounding the order to send the soldiers home.

Any refusal of soldiers to obey orders is highly embarrassing to the government, with ministers becoming increasingly worried about the way the war is developing.  It is also causing concern to British military chiefs who are worried about growing evidence of civilians being killed in fighting involving American soldiers around urban areas in southern Iraq.

UK soldiers sent home from Iraq "for refusing to fight"

Two British soldiers have been sent home from the Gulf for refusing to fight in a war involving the deaths of civilians, according to a solicitor who advises troops.

Justin Hugheston-Roberts says the soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, Essex, told their commanding officers they would not take part in the military action.

Mr Hugheston-Roberts, chairman of Forces Law, said they could be thrown out of the Army or have to face a court martial. It is understood they are a private and an air technician.

Mr Hugheston-Roberts said his organisation, which links service personnel with specialist solicitors across the country, had been approached by a number of people serving in the current conflict.

He said: "We had a number of enquiries from services personnel saying we want to leave now. I am acting for a client who was returned from theatre a matter of a couple of weeks ago.

"In previous conflicts we have had all personnel from all aspects of the military contact the network and find out how they can get out of the services. Normally this is just prior to the conflict."

He said he could not comment further on his client who has been returned from the Gulf, but said the case was "completely dissimilar" to that of the two soldiers.

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Defence said: "We have no evidence that anybody has been sent back for refusing to fight.

"We do get soldiers sent back all the time from theatre for various reasons such as medical, welfare and disciplinary things that need to be dealt with back in the units."

Personnel serving in the Gulf from 16 Air Assault Brigade include 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 216 Signal Squadron and 16 Close Support Medical Regiment.

Monday 31st March 2003
CompuServe, UK News