| 9.9°C Belfast

Army hasn’t got issue with far-right views, says minister after Corbyn incident

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the incident was ‘completely unacceptable’.


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed shock at the incident (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed shock at the incident (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed shock at the incident (David Mirzoeff/PA)

The Army does not have a problem with far-right views and extremism, the Defence Secretary has said the day after a video showed soldiers shooting at an image of the Labour leader.

Footage captured in Kabul, Afghanistan, shows personnel from 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment using a picture of Jeremy Corbyn for target practice on a Simunition range.

The Army confirmed an investigation has been launched, with Brigadier Nick Perry, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, describing the incident as a “serious error of judgment”.

Speaking to reporters, Gavin Williamson said it was “completely unacceptable what happened” and that the Army will be “looking at it closely and reporting swiftly”.

Asked by the Press Association if the Army has a problem with far-right views and extremism, he said: “I don’t believe they have an issue on that at all.

“The Army, when it is recruiting, that is one of the areas that they vet. It’s certainly something that isn’t tolerated, and that’s something that I have always taken swift action on.”

The video shows a number of soldiers taking aim down the range and firing their weapons – the camera then focuses on the target and zooms in on an image of Mr Corbyn.

With a graphic of “happy with that” across the screen throughout, a number of marks can be seen peppered across Mr Corbyn’s face.

It is understood it was a non-lethal hardened wax substance aimed and fired at the image instead of metal bullets, with the incident taking place in the past few days.

The range is designed for and used by personnel to practise what is called the “guardian angel drill” – a force protection tactic.

On Wednesday, after the video was widely shared on social media, Mr Corbyn said he was “shocked” the paratroopers had used an image of his face.

The incident comes after far-right activist Tommy Robinson posted a photograph of himself surrounded by grinning soldiers in October – prompting another Army probe.

The former English Defence League leader also shared a video featuring Army personnel who cheered and shouted his name.

At the time, the Army said it was aware of the image and footage and was “investigating the circumstances”, adding that a “far-right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the armed forces”.