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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Officer recalled to army inquest
Trooper David Clarke and Corporal Stephen Allbutt
The pair were killed in so-called "friendly fire"
A senior army officer has denied lying over the deaths of two army soldiers killed by friendly fire in Iraq.

Lt Col Lindsay MacDuff has been recalled to an inquest into the death of Cpl Stephen Allbutt, 35, in 2003.

Cpl Allbutt and Trooper David Clarke, 19, both of Staffs, died in the same incident near Basra in March.

Lt Col MacDuff had said he had told his men about the presence of two nearby friendly tanks, but they said they had not been given the message.

The radio log of the incident has since gone missing.

'A fabrication'

On Friday, Lt Col MacDuff, who was a major commanding B Company, 1 Black Watch, at the time, maintained his claim that he told his men about the tanks.

Richard Hermer, barrister for the Allbutt and Clarke families, said: "You are lying Mr MacDuff. This is not a recollection, it is a fabrication."

Lt Col MacDuff insisted he was telling the truth and was not trying to protect himself or anyone else by lying.

Cpl Allbutt, from Stoke-on-Trent, and Trooper Clarke, of Littleworth, died when a Black Watch tank fired on two Royal Regiment of Fusiliers tanks.

Deputy coroner for Oxfordshire Andrew Williams reacted to criticism of his questioning a soldier in a civilian court, after recalling Lt Col MacDuff.

A letter in The Times newspaper questioned the validity of a civilian coroner questioning a military officer.

But Mr Williams said: ""In that case, how dare a medical coroner ask a question of, say, a gas fitter?

"If you take that step then you are in very dangerous territory indeed."

He requested recordings of Lt Col MacDuff's evidence to the inquest to be handed to the Army Prosecuting Authority (APA) saying he wanted the authority to decide by next Thursday if it wishes to prosecute the officer or not.

He added that without the missing radio log it was highly unlikely he would be charged.

The inquest has been adjourned until Thursday.

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