No Army action over 'Red Caps massacre'

THE British Army will not discipline any staff following the so-called "Red Caps massacre" in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence said today.

Letters sent to the grieving relatives of six Royal Military Policemen state that no "administrative action" will be taken against Army personnel.

Tony Hamilton-Jewell, whose brother Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell was one of the six RMPs killed, said his reaction to the letter was "one of disgust".

The men, all from 156 Provost Company, were killed by an Iraqi mob as they manned a small police station in Al-Majar Al-Kabir on June 24, 2004.

The deaths sparked outrage among the soldiers’ families who vowed to fight for an independent inquiry into the incident.

A documentary screened last night alleged that a British paratrooper hailed as a hero in Iraq triggered the brutal mob attack in which the six Red Caps died.

The BBC investigation claimed Corporal John Dolman, who was later killed in an suicide attack while working for a private security firm in Iraq, fired the shots which sparked the Al-Majar massacre.

Paratroopers in the area at the time had fought fiercely with locals and managed to flee, oblivious to the RMPs about to face their deaths.

The BBC2 documentary, Sweeney Investigates: The Death of the Red Caps, reported that two days before the killings, the paras went into Al-Majar, where they were stoned by a local crowd and had to fire warning shots in the air. The following day, a major in the paras signed an agreement with local leaders not to carry out weapons searches.

The documentary said there was ambiguity about what the deal meant - Iraqis thought it also meant no patrols, the Army assumed they could continue routine checks. On June 24, paras entered the town and were attacked by a crowd.

The RMPs had inadvertently walked into the hostile environment and sought refuge in the Iraqi police station nearby.

The paras fought their way out of danger and were rescued, but the mob tracked down the Red Caps and murdered them. The BBC documentary said there were "striking" similarities between this incident and a firefight in Kosovo in 1999, in which Mr Dolman was also involved and two people died.

Although no criminal charges were brought, a civil case brought by two survivors found against Mr Dolman and the MoD had to pay 100,000, the programme said.

The families of the dead men insist that the former paratrooper’s provocative role in Al-Majar has been covered up by the MoD.

Mr Hamilton-Jewell said: "Dolman was in Kosovo before this and the Special Investigations Board had grounds to charge him for murder. He murdered two Kosovans when he fired on unarmed people.

"This documentary is raising questions about the MoD inquiry which is just one big cover-up. As John Miller [whose son Simon was killed] said, this is the mother of all cover-ups. They are a law unto themselves and are lying through their back teeth. This has got to change - the Army cannot investigate itself any more."

However, a senior Army officer reviewed the incident to establish whether "administrative action" rather than criminal action should be taken against any staff, an MoD spokesman said today.

"After a thorough investigation and careful investigation of the evidence, no administrative action is to be taken against any individuals in connection with this incident," the spokesman said.

Administrative action in the Army was similar to civil employment proceedings, the spokesman said. The letter sent by the Army to the dead men’s relatives states that the investigating officer felt that: "The chain of command should give further consideration to the possibility that another two individuals should face some form of administrative sanction." It continues: "These opinions were reviewed with great care by the chain of command, who decided not to accept the recommendation that these two individuals should be investigated further."

An Army board of inquiry’s report into the killings found no conclusive evidence that the Royal Military Police deaths could have been prevented.