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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Army photos: Claims and rebuttals
Ever since the Mirror newspaper published photos of British soldiers allegedly torturing an Iraqi prisoner their authenticity has been questioned.

Army sources, former commanders and army intelligence officers, and the Royal Military Police's Special Investigation Branch have questioned their veracity.

Daily Mirror picture
The paper claims British soldiers handed over the photos

On Friday the Daily Mirror conceded the pictures were a hoax and editor Piers Morgan resigned.

The Mirror had earlier defended the testimony of the two soldiers, known only as A and B, who gave them the photos.

Read on for a list of key claims and, where given, the rebuttals they stood by for two weeks.

1. Claim: The wrong type of Bedford truck is shown in the background - a type never deployed in Iraq. Some have also said it is too clean.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told the House of Commons on Thursday : "The truck in which these pictures were taken was never in Iraq."

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Rebuttal: Soldier A previously told the Mirror: "It was a four ton truck, I'm not sure what make. We always used that sort of truck when we were on raids as did other units."

On the cleanliness claim he said: "That's the way it was."

2. Claim: Sources close to the Queen's Lancashire regiment believe the rifle is an SA80 mk 1 - which was not issued to troops in Iraq. The rifle would have had a carrying sling attached. Some experts have said they believe it's a replica.

Rebuttal: Soldier A told the Mirror: "I was carrying an SA80-A2. I think the one in the picture is that model as well. I can't explain why it may not be. Some soldiers wore rifle slings, many others didn't."

3. Claim: The condition of the weapon is "pristine", whereas it would be scuffed and dirty if it had seen action. It also has no cover over the barrel and no identification number on the butt.

Rebuttal: Soldier A said: "We cleaned our rifles all the time. It could have been cleaned that afternoon."

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4. Claim: The army doesn't use potato sacks as hoods, but dark room curtains. The hood was too clean and "ironed" for something that would have been crumpled up in someone's pockets.

Rebuttal: Soldier A told the Mirror: "I can't answer that. That was the hood the man had on." The paper claims to have seen another picture of a different arrested Iraqi, in which the 'sandbag' hood appears to be identical.

5. Claim: "Why would the soldier be wearing webbing that is undone? Normally soldiers are very particular about that," said former commander Colonel Bob Stewart. A Queen's Lancashire Regiment soldier said "it is highly irregular on a professional soldier" to leave pouches open.

Rebuttal: "On raids, kit wasn't the issue. We had also returned to our compound, the soldier might have removed stuff," soldier A told the Mirror.

6. Claim: The stream of urine does not look authentic. Among the claims are that shadows have been added to the drops of urine, that the wet patch on the hood is fake, and that the droplets are coming from a bottle of water.

Rebuttal: None provided.

7. Claim: Col Stewart threw doubt on the captive's "slightly silky" football shirt, bearing an Iraqi flag. "Is that the sort of shirt that a captive might be wearing?" he said. Other analysts have said the shirt would be out of place in the Shia area of Basra.

Rebuttal: "We saw dozens of Iraqis wearing exactly those t-shirts," soldier B told the Mirror.

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8. Claim: Soldiers tie laces in a parallel, rather than criss-cross, fashion.

Rebuttal: The Mirror pictures soldier with boots laced criss-cross. Soldier A said: "I think people lace the boots the way they are most comfortable with."

9. Claim: Soldiers operating in this area wouldn't tuck their trousers into their boots, but would leave them outside with an elasticated bottom to stop sand getting in.

Rebuttal: None provided.

10. Claim: The shirt would be sweaty, dirty and dishevelled after alleged beatings. There are no bruises or marks on the captured man.

Rebuttal: Soldier A told the Mirror: "The man was wearing some sort of Arab dress over his t-shirt and it was ripped off during his arrest."

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11. Claim: Regiment sources say soldiers wear berets or hard hats, not floppy hats.

Rebuttal: Soldier B said: "We wore floppy hats all the time. A beret was too hot, helmets cumbersome."

12. Claim: The captive's posture does not suggest he is being tortured. The body would be curled up, legs pulled into the foetal position. "It is not the posture of someone who has suffered pain," said Col Stewart.

Rebuttal: Soldier A said: "That's how he was. His arms were tied behind him."

13. Claim: Divisional markings should have been visible under the flag on the soldier's left sleeve.

Rebuttal: The Mirror pictures two other soldiers serving in Iraq, also with no divisional markings on their sleeves. Soldier A told the paper: "We weren't going around sewing badges on."

14. Claim: Experts have questioned the sharp quality of the photos - former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabe compares them with the fuzzy, badly composed pictures of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, published earlier. The Mirror's pictures are "all too clinical" to be trusted, he said.

Rebuttal: None provided

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The Daily Mirror is standing squarely behind its story"

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