Monday 31 March 2003

UK soldiers sent home from Iraq 'for refusing to fight'

Two British soldiers have been sent home from the Gulf for refusing to fight in a war involving the deaths of civilians, according to a solicitor who advises troops.

Justin Hugheston-Roberts says the soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, Essex, told their commanding officers they would not take part in the military action.

Mr Hugheston-Roberts, chairman of Forces Law, said they could be thrown out of the Army or have to face a court martial. It is understood they are a private and an air technician.

Mr Hugheston-Roberts said his organisation, which links service personnel with specialist solicitors across the country, had been approached by a number of people serving in the current conflict.

He said: "We had a number of enquiries from services personnel saying we want to leave now. I am acting for a client who was returned from theatre a matter of a couple of weeks ago.

"In previous conflicts we have had all personnel from all aspects of the military contact the network and find out how they can get out of the services. Normally this is just prior to the conflict."

He said he could not comment further on his client who has been returned from the Gulf, but said the case was "completely dissimilar" to that of the two soldiers.

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Defence said: "We have no evidence that anybody has been sent back for refusing to fight.

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