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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
'Fake' pics court martial dropped
Daily Mirror picture
One of the faked pictures depicted a soldier urinating on an Iraqi
The court martial of a soldier accused of faking pictures purporting to show British troops abusing Iraqi prisoners has been discontinued.

Stuart Mackenzie, 25, had been facing up to two years' imprisonment on a charge of misusing military equipment.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said proceedings had been "stayed following the emergence of new evidence".

"The case is now with the Crown Prosecution Service, with a view to establishing the way ahead," he added.

Publishing the pictures led to Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan's sacking.

After hearing the court martial had been discontinued, Mr Morgan told BBC Radio 4's PM programme he felt "totally vindicated".

He added: "It is about time the government and the Ministry of Defence and the Queen's Lancashire Regiment put up some real evidence."

We have already seen from court martials earlier this year that much worse than we put forward was going on, indisputably
Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan

Mr Morgan told PM: "I have always maintained the reason I didn't admit they were a hoax at the time was due to a lack of hard evidence.

"All we have ever had actually is this weird claim the truck wasn't in Iraq.

"No members of the media were ever allowed to inspect that truck or go near it.

"It was put up by the regiment who we accused, who are facing much more serious charges later this year in relation to abuse in Iraq.

"We have already seen from court martials earlier this year that much worse than we put forward was going on, indisputably."

One photo was said to depict a Queen's Lancashire Regiment (QLR) soldier urinating on a hooded Iraqi.

In another, the hooded man appeared to be being hit with a rifle.

Daily Mirror front page
The Daily Mirror apologised after publishing the fake photographs

Doubts about the authenticity of the photographs were expressed by experts in the days following the publication and the MoD questioned at least one soldier in connection with the incident.

But a lorry shown in the shots had never been used in Iraq, a two-month Royal Military police investigation concluded.

Doubts were also raised about the soldier's uniform.

On 15 May, two weeks after publishing the pictures, the newspaper printed an apology saying: "We apologise for publishing pictures which we now believe were not genuine.

"We also say sorry to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment and our Army in Iraq for publishing those pictures."

Private MacKenzie, from Haslingden, Lancashire, works for the Inland Revenue.

He went to Iraq with the Territorial Army, attached to the 1st Battalion, QLR.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The background to the case



SEE ALSO:
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Editor sacked over 'hoax' photos
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Mirror photos 'not taken in Iraq'
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