4 Jul 2013

SAS trial – armed farce

Matters in the Court Martial of SAS sniper Danny Nightingale at Bulford Camp were not without their lighter moments on Thursday.

The main cause of this was the presence of a 9mm glock pistol introduced by counsel for the Defence William Clegg.

Mr Clegg was cross-examining “soldier N”, the SAS senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) who cannot be identified even though he’s in a military prison for illegally possessing a 9mm glock pistol, hand-grenade and scores of rounds of ammo.

For reasons clear to nobody but himself (including the judge who queried mildly why he was doing it) Mr Clegg asked for the pistol to be handed around the court to the board (the jury of five serving officers).

At this point the colonel representing military security on the prosecution bench stood up. He told the judge it is against all military regulations to pass a weapon capable of being fired from person to person:

“Understandably members of the board are, I think, a little nervous of undertaking this activity.”

Glancing at them, the Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said:

“Well yes – I am getting a little nervous now I must say.”

He added: “Can we please make sure it is safe?”

Alarmingly, this was not the end of the matter. Mr Clegg soldiered on with the lengthy and detailed questioning of “soldier N”.

After some time it was brought to the attention of the judge that defence counsel was proceeding with the 9mm glock pistol sitting on the desk among his papers.

“Do you need that weapon on your desk?” the judge asked Mr Clegg.

“There is a nervousness in the court,” he added, “perhaps you can give it back Mr Clegg?”

Perhaps. In fact Mr Clegg could give the gun back and did give the gun back.

The case continues, presumably with counsel on both sides armed with nothing beyond papers.

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