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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 23:08 GMT
Army boss defends soldier trials
General Sir Mike Jackson
General Sir Mike Jackson is head of the British army
The head of the British Army has launched a passionate defence of the way soldiers accused of offences in Iraq and elsewhere are prosecuted.

Sir Mike Jackson, without commenting on individual cases, said suggestions that army prosecutors could be politically swayed were an "outrageous slander".

He accused the media of peddling ill-informed opinion which suggested morale was low because of prosecutions.

"I've no sense soldiers think the whole thing is a busted flush," he said.

BBC Defence Correspondent Paul Wood said General Jackson, Chief of General Staff, was "clearly furious" when he denied army prosecutors were influenced by the government or senior officers.

"It's a calumny of decent people to say they are dancing to some political tune," he said.

General Jackson added that although he had great sympathy for soldiers who were accused, the British Army had to stand for the rule of law. The new Armed Forces Bill, which comes before Parliament in two weeks' time, will reform the courts martial system and aims to streamline the whole process. In February this year, a group of British soldiers were found guilty of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Camp Bread Basket.

Notorious images of a detainee being strung from a forklift truck and of an Iraqi being stood upon by one of the troops were revealed.


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