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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 12:20 GMT
'Friendly fire' footage not shown
Matty Hull
Matty Hull died in an attack by US A10 warplanes near Basra
A tape of a British soldier being killed in a "friendly fire" incident will not be shown in open court at his inquest, a coroner has ruled.

The coroner agreed to a US request not to show the tape of the incident which led to the death of Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, 25, from Berkshire.

He agreed not to show the footage despite calling it "vital evidence".

The tape shows US pilots mistakenly firing at two British army tanks near the Iraqi city of Basra in March 2003.

The squadron involved in the incident has apologised for it.

L/Cpl Hull, from the Household Cavalry Regiment, had been travelling in a column of light armoured vehicles near Basra when it was attacked by a US A-10 "tankbuster" aircraft.

I can say quite categorically that if it were not for the potential delay and distress this would cause the family, I would not be willing to be bound by an agreement with the US
Coroner Andrew Walker

He died from multiple injuries inside his blazing Scimitar tank, despite efforts by colleagues to save him.

L/Cpl Hull's family had been told there was no recording from the cockpit of the aircraft, but a video was handed to Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker after the inquest opened earlier this month.

The Ministry of Defence refused to allow the tape to be shown as evidence in court and the inquest was adjourned.

But the tape was then leaked to the Sun newspaper, which identified Colonel Gus Kohntopp as the pilot who fired the shots after mistaking the British tanks for enemy rocket launchers.

Mr Walker said he had reluctantly agreed to the American request not to show the footage in open court.

'Lingering doubts'

Addressing a pre-inquest hearing on Friday, he said: "I can say quite categorically that if it were not for the potential delay and distress this would cause the family, I would not be willing to be bound by an agreement with the US as to use of evidence that I consider crucial to this inquest.

"I would be wrong to accept that the US are correct in seeking to bind the hands of the coroner's court in this way but in these circumstances I feel that in order to make progress and provide the family with closure, it seems to me that I must act in this way as far as the copy of that video is concerned."

The tape will be brought to the court by an MoD official and shown to the coroner and L/Cpl Hull's family.

BBC correspondent Paul Wood said: "I suppose that getting the original copy handed over from the Ministry of Defence from the Americans clears up any doubt as to the veracity - any questions of whether there was any editing.

"But still any lingering doubts the family might have would be hopefully assuaged by seeing it in that official setting.

"Bear in mind the family feel that they have been mislead - they feel the MoD did not tell them when it should have done that this tape existed."

The full inquest is due to begin on 12 March.


SEE ALSO
Coroner slams MoD over Iraq tape
01 Feb 07 |  England

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