Letter in The Times.
Sir, Sergeant Blackman shot a fighter who was probably either dead or mortally wounded in the course of a bloody campaign against the Taliban (“Marines defy rally ban over Taliban shooter,” Oct 28). What happened was filmed and as a result Blackman was charged with murder and brought before a court.
War is a ghastly, horrible business, and we have to be really careful when making peacetime judgments about actions of people in war. What is clear is that if there had been helmet cameras on every soldier during the two world wars, we would have thousands of cases like this.
The 5-2 in favour of a conviction, sufficient in a court martial, shows significant doubt, which would result in a retrial in a civilian court. It seems likely that Blackman was suffering from diminished responsibility from prolonged exposure to battlefield conditions involving a barbaric enemy. Surely a manslaughter verdict would have been more appropriate?
It is our duty as a nation to look after the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to ensure our safety. The default position should be to give them the benefit of the doubt, not to make an example of them.
Admiral Lord West House of Lords