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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Abuse photos 'were staged in UK'
Daily Mirror photo of alleged abuse
The Mirror is standing by its pictures

The pictures which sparked claims UK soldiers abused Iraqis were staged at a British barracks by Territorial Army (TA) members, it has been reported.

Sources told the Daily Telegraph the photographs were set up in a Bedford MK lorry at Kimberley TA base in Preston.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said it was likely the pictures were a hoax.

The regiment accused of the abuse has demanded an apology from the Daily Mirror for publishing the images, but the paper has stood by their accuracy.

The photographs appeared to show soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment urinating on a prisoner and striking him with a rifle.


But members of the military have disputed aspects of the equipment and uniform worn by the soldiers.

Kimberley Barracks is home to the Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers - the local Territorial Army infantry unit for Lancashire and Cumbria.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the Telegraph story about the alleged mock-up was "totally speculative".

"The Special Investigation Branch are conducting a report. They have not concluded their report so we're unable to comment."

In his Commons statement, Mr Hoon said there were "strong indications" the vehicle in the Mirror photos, published last week, had not been in Iraq when the abuse allegedly happened.

The Daily Mirror does not accept that the MoD has proved these photographs are faked
Piers Morgan
Daily Mirror editor

"Additional lines of inquiry are being pursued to corroborate this," he said.

The minister later told Channel 4 News: "It is important that the Mirror now answer why it is they have perpetrated this hoax."

A member of the Queen's Lancashire's regimental council told BBC News that Mr Hoon's statement "vindicates our case".

But Mirror editor Piers Morgan quickly countered: "The Daily Mirror does not accept that the MoD has proved these photographs are faked.

"Nor will we accept that they are not genuine images until incontrovertible evidence is produced to the contrary."

Earlier the newspaper issued a statement saying Mr Hoon's initial comments about the truck "were obviously designed to divert attention from the much bigger and more important issue" of the abuse it had exposed.

"The MoD has had eight days to try and discredit the pictures, and the very serious incident of abuse they illustrate, and the best they can do is now suggest there are 'indications' that this type of van may not have been in Iraq at the time," it said.

But four soldiers had told the paper the van was used, it added.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"Pressure on the paper is growing over these photographs"

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