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Torture probe 'betrayed soldiers'

An Iraq war veteran has said a £31m public inquiry was a "betrayal" of British Army soldiers after it found war crimes allegations against them were "without foundation".

Former 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment corporal Brian Wood told the Daily Mail he felt he and his colleagues who fought in the Battle of Danny Boy on May 14 2004 in southern Iraq, had "done the right thing".

The long-running Al-Sweady inquiry concluded in its final report there were instances of mistreatment of detainees which breached the Geneva convention following the battle but it also ruled allegations of murder and torture were based on "deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility".

Mr Wood, 34, who was awarded the Military Cross for his role in the battle, according to the paper, said: "We have been dragged through five years of hell. That in my view is a betrayal of our service.

"We did what we had to do as soldiers and we did the right thing."

Meanwhile, Ann Hoolin, 50, the mother of soldier Scott Hoolin, told the paper her son was "upset and disturbed" following the inquiry.

"To be accused of wrongdoing in the aftermath of what happened is disgraceful," she said.

The battle itself was one of the fiercest firefights during the campaign in Iraq, after a patrol of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were ambushed by insurgents from the Mahdi Army. Their reinforcements, the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, were also ambushed and after three hours of fighting 28 Iraqi fighters had been killed.

In the wake of inquiry chairman Sir Thayne Forbes' findings, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon criticised lawyers acting for Iraqi claimants.

Responding to criticisms following the report, Public Interest Lawyers said the inquiry had been "legally necessary, morally justified and politically required".

The retired High Court judge did find that there had been instances of ill-treatment during "tactical questioning" of the detainees at Camp Abu Naji (CAN), near Majar-al-Kabir in southern Iraq, on the night of May 14/15.

These included depriving the prisoners of sight, food and sleep, and using threatening interrogation techniques contrary to the Geneva Convention.

It amounted to ill-treatment and fell below the high standard to be expected of the British Army, Sir Thayne said.

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