Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 17:28 UK

Awol accused soldier 'no coward'

L/Cpl Joe Glenton
L/Cpl Joe Glenton met his wife Claire while absent without leave

A soldier who refused to return to Afghanistan is not a coward but an "extraordinary" man standing up for his moral beliefs, a solicitor has said.

L/Cpl Joe Glenton, 27, from York, is due to face a court martial on Friday accused of desertion.

The Royal Logistic Corps soldier went absent without leave in 2007. He handed himself in two years later.

L/Cpl Glenton's caseworker said he had taken a stand because he believed the war in Afghanistan was morally wrong.

John Tipples said: "Joe Glenton is not a coward. He's not turning away from his responsibilities. What he's doing is standing up to them.

I guess the hard part's yet to come, but we are very strong
L/Cpl Glenton's wife Claire

"I am very keen indeed to support ordinary people who take a stand against authority and that's exactly what Joe's done, he's taken a stand.

"When I say ordinary, he's quite an extraordinary guy actually. I think his courage is the kind of courage that we should encourage in young people."

Mr Tipple said L/Cpl Glenton could be sentenced to up to two years in prison if he is found guilty.

In the meantime he has returned to normal duties with his regiment at his base in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Glenton's wife Claire said it was "hard" not being able to see him often as the court martial approaches.

She said: "I guess the hard part's yet to come, but we are very strong.

"We have been through a lot so we are just kind of ready now to get this over and done with."

'No choice'

Mrs Glenton met her husband through a mutual friend in Australia while he was absent without leave.

They decided to return to the UK after getting married earlier this year.

She said: "It felt good, I saw the relief in his face straight away.

"He had mixed emotions about it all, he felt he'd let himself down.

"You know running away is not always the answer but in that particular instance he had no choice."

Hugh Bayley, Labour MP for the City of York, said he could not comment on L/Cpl Glenton's case but said, "you can't have soldiers picking and choosing what missions they go on".

He said: "You couldn't have a police officer deciding that they weren't quite sure whether the law on a particular crime was fair or not and they'd only investigate the crimes which they felt personally committed to.

"If you act as a police officer you have to do the whole job and if you sign on for the Army as a soldier you have to do the whole job too."

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