Blow the whistle

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The case of the Marine court marshalled over the execution of an Afghan insurgent (your report, 9 November) only came to court because of the presence of footage recorded on an helmet camera, and not because of one of the soldiers involved blew the whistle on the war crime.

Police Federation members lied about former chief whip Andrew Mitchell and Panorama showed footage of nurses abusing dementia patients.

In all three cases the abuse prosecution was only possible because of the availability of recorded evidence, and not because any of the professionals involved blew the whistle on the abuse.

Unfortunately, it is not safe to assume that the instances of abuse recorded are isolated cases just because other recorded evidence does not exist.

Senior personnel in the army, police and the NHS need to encourage a culture of whistleblowing on abuse rather than promoting the understandable culture of loyalty to colleagues.

Details of this latest abuse will definitely be utilised to recruit more terrorists.

NEIL SINCLAIR

Clarence Street

Edinburgh

The absurdity of a “war on terror” tipped our troops into one of our longest ever conflicts against a foe who routinely hangs the body parts of captured soldiers from trees.

As a former military chaplain I am more than a little uneasy with the trial of a Marine for shooting “in cold blood” a wounded Taleban combatant on the field of battle.

We are so short of troops these men were worn out by battle fatigue from being endlessly rotated into this idiotic, unwinnable campaign and something was bound to give.

The “shock horror” reaction implies such things are completely out of character but there were many hushed-up cases of British soldiers shooting German prisoners of war in the Second World War. 

When taped evidence surfaced, disciplinary action was inevitable but it is naive to expect men to coolly follow Geneva rules to the letter in the midst of a “filthy little war”.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews

Tim Ripley, in his analysis (9 November) shows a woeful lack of knowledge of the conduct of army officers on active services.

As an “analyst and commentator” he might be considered to be an opinion former and in light of that his ignorance of the reality of the conduct of army officers and their management of their men makes his views a slur on the British Army officer.

The reality is that army officers are in the field leading from the front and sharing the hardships of their troops in the front and that remains second nature in the army.

I might suggest that he should, before putting pen to paper on such matters in future, get out there and see first hand the actuality of what goes on.

In fact he only has to get out from behind his own desk, and visit the battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland stationed in Scotland (Dreghorn, Glencorse, and Fort George) and discuss the duties of the officers in the field, with those officers such as my son, who have combat experience.

John B Gorrie

Craigmount Gardens

Edinburgh

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