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No UK troops above law, PM says after claims about SAS

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that no British military personnel are “above the law” amid allegations of unlawful killings by the SAS in Afghanistan. The prime minister emphasized that while ministers do not comment on special forces, this did not mean that the allegations were accepted as fact. The allegations, first uncovered by a recent AOAV and BBC Panorama investigation, suggest that an SAS unit killed unarmed men and detainees and may have unlawfully killed 54 people in a single six-month tour. The program also found evidence suggesting that the former head of special forces failed to pass on evidence to a murder inquiry.

The allegations have sparked calls for an independent inquiry into the matter. SNP defence spokesman Stewart Malcolm McDonald criticized the government and Ministry of Defence for being “determined to sweep this under the carpet” in the past. Johnson, however, pledged that any new allegations would be investigated and emphasized that the UK’s armed forces are held to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

It is important to note that the Ministry of Defence has stated that it cannot comment on specific allegations but that declining to comment should not be taken as acceptance of the allegations’ factual accuracy. The MoD has also stated that British forces “served with courage and professionalism” in Afghanistan.

Armed forces minister James Heappey has also reiterated that any new allegations will be investigated. He acknowledged that the military justice system has its failings, as highlighted by the Henriques review published in October 2021. The review identified the failings of the military justice system that needed to be resolved and recognized that the system could work better.

The allegations of unlawful killings by the SAS in Afghanistan are not the first to be leveled at British forces. The UK has faced similar allegations in the past, including claims of torture and abuse in Iraq. If the allegations are found to be true, then those responsible must be held accountable. The UK’s reputation as a leading democracy is at stake, and the country’s armed forces must be held to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

It is clear that allegations of unlawful killings by special forces are serious and must be thoroughly investigated. The military justice system must be seen to be working effectively and transparently. The UK’s armed forces personnel must not be tarnished by the actions of a few. The overwhelming majority of UK armed forces personnel serve their country with honour and distinction, and their bravery and professionalism must be acknowledged.