Today's news blog looks at select committee hearings on investigations into alleged wrongdoing in Iraq and service family accommodation, along with a Russian submarine that was escorted through the English Channel by a Royal Navy vessel - and a Jamie Vardy lookalike.
IRAQI ABUSE CASES
Newspapers take different angles in their coverage of a Commons defence sub-committee hearing yesterday which looked at investigations relating to the Iraq war. The Times writes that British soldiers could face prosecution for the use of illegal interrogation methods that were taught by an official training video.
The video in question is 10 years old – it was recorded in December 2005 - and was considered in Sir William Gage’s report on the Baha Mousa Inquiry. The questioning technique was prohibited by the interrogation policy issued in 2010. While the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is investigating claims relating to interrogation, these do not relate to conduct that was sanctioned in the video. Our statement on this issue is below:
It is untrue to suggest that soldiers are being prosecuted for using techniques shown in this training video which is more than 10 years old.
Changes to interrogation policy and training have been introduced in the years since, including as a result of the Baha Mousa inquiry. Current policy and training fully comply with the law.
We have blogged previously on the work of the IHAT and the context in which they operate while Minister for the Armed Forces Penny Mordaunt also told the House about the need to protect our personnel from sometimes spurious legal claims and allegations. A MOD statement on this issue is below:
There is a legal requirement to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by UK Forces, which are held to the highest standards wherever in the world they may be.
But what we saw from cases like the Al-Sweady inquiry was a completely unacceptable attempt to abuse our legal system to falsely impugn our Armed Forces.
That’s why last year, we made a clear manifesto commitment to ensure that our Armed Forces are not subject to persistent legal claims that undermine their ability to do their job. We are now working to deliver that and will make further announcements in due course.
The Guardian and Daily Mail report that British warship HMS Kent intercepted a Russian submarine as it cruised towards the Channel and yesterday escorted the vessel through the English Channel. It is suggested that the Stary Oskol, a Kilo-class submarine capable of carrying cruise missiles, was first detected in the North Sea, where Nato forces are monitoring the waters. Meanwhile, The Sun reports how they took to the sea in a fishing boat with a lookalike of England striker Jamie Vardy onboard – three days before England face Russia in Euro 2016.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
This shows that the Navy is maintaining a vigilant watch in international and territorial waters to keep Britain safe and protect us from potential threats.
The Sun reports that the boss of CarillionAmey apologised for failing to fix Armed Forces homes at a Commons Public Accounts Committee yesterday. The paper reports that, in a bid to hold on to its £2.8billion Government contract, MD Richard Lumby said: “We have undoubtedly dropped a big clanger and put a lot of people and their families through discomfort in the last 18 months. We are incredibly sorry.”
Our statement on this issue is below:
We recognise the importance of publicly provided accommodation to Armed Forces personnel and their families, and continue to look at ways we can improve standards of Service Family Accommodation and Service Living Accommodation. Carillion Amey has developed an aggressive plan to improve the quality of service to personnel and their families.