Panorama has won an important victory in the High Court against the Ministry of Defence which was attempting to prevent the broadcast of details of alleged abuse by soldiers in Iraq.
British troops are alleged to have tortured Iraqis after an ambush
Panorama intends to broadcast the allegations in a programme as a follow up to Paul Kenyon's A Good Kicking last March.
This time they relate to events in May 2004 in Southern Iraq that are now the subject of civil action by British solicitors. The case involves allegations of torture, abuse, mutilation and execution of Iraqi prisoners by British Army servicemen.
During the hearing, Lord Justice Moses said it was "barmy" that it had taken so long for the military authorities to investigate what had happened at Majar.
Until it was lifted, the gagging order prevented Panorama and other media from reporting any of the allegations made by the Iraqi families and those who say they were
survivors of the abuse.
The order would also have prevented reporting of a pending High Court hearing in any meaningful way.
It blocked the naming of any of the Iraqi claimants, or the telling of their stories, until a final decision was taken on whether there would be criminal prosecutions against any soldiers.
Lord Justice Moses - also sitting with Mr Justice Silber - overturned the ban "in its entirety".
He ruled there was "ample material" to support the proposition that the
proceedings to be brought in the High Court should be "in the public domain",
and ample authority "for the good reasons why that should be so".
The MoD had wanted to keep secret the names of the army regiments allegedly
But Lord Justice Moses ruled there was no basis for keeping secret the names of
those who were subject to investigation.
The possibility of there being any prosecution was "far too remote", said the
judge, and there was certainly no statutory prohibition on the publication of
Jonathan Swift, appearing for the MoD, said fresh investigations had become
necessary as a result of the witness statements made by the Iraqi claimants in
the pending High Court hearing.
He said he was only seeking to uphold the gagging order in so far as it
prohibited the naming of the regiments involved.
The judge said: "It is not the way it works. If you are right then it is one
rule for the MoD and another rule for the ordinary citizen."
Panorama's action was supported by The Times and The Guardian.