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Red Cap families 'want truth out'
The families of four Army Red Caps killed by an Iraqi mob have spoken of their unrelenting quest for justice after agreeing to bring a human rights act claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Corporals Russell Aston, 30, Simon Miller, 21, Lance Corporal Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, and Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, were killed when a 400-strong mob descended on a police station in Majar al-Kabir in Iraq in June 2003.
They hope their legal action against the MoD will trigger a public inquiry into the deaths, having said they were dissatisfied with both the inquests and board of inquiry investigation which followed the deaths.
Reg Keys from Solihull, father of L/Cpl Keys, said there were grave failings on the day his son was ultimately sent to his death. He said: "These soldiers' deaths have been brushed under the carpet. It is almost like the Ministry of Defence lost six pieces of hardware, not six lives. I understand and appreciate that soldiers lose their lives. But this, in my view, was totally avoidable. When you think that six soldiers died and nobody was held to account, that leaves some big question marks."
John Miller, whose 21-year-old son was also killed in the attack, said the search for the truth surrounding his son's death had "consumed" the lives of his family.
The 62-year-old, from Washington in Tyne and Wear, added: "We want the truth to come out. It's been 10 years now and we still don't know what happened to our son. We know he was murdered but we don't know why it happened or what happened in the proceeding hours or days. Now we have the vehicle to launch what we see as a legal option to bring this out into the public domain. It's in the public's interest as well as our own."
Mike Aston, father of Cpl Aston, said such a hearing was crucial to bring to justice those he felt responsible for the deaths. Speaking from his home in Swadlincote, south Derbyshire, the 70-year-old said: "What we want is for people who were culpable in this (members of the armed forces on the day) to answer our questions. We want justice. They weren't killed in action, it was murder."
The families' lawyer, Simon McKay, said they will not be seeking any compensation over the deaths. He said: "The families have been seeking answers to questions for 10 years and they still haven't had them adequately answered.
Mr McKay said that, in addition to High Court proceedings, a criminal complaint will be lodged with the Provost Marshall's office in respect of allegations that individuals concerned in the incident acted contrary to military law.
Two other Royal Military Police officers, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey, and Corporal Paul Long, 24, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear, were also killed in the attack, in a region of Iraq deemed particularly hostile.