press release re Trooper Williams

#1
R v Kevin Williams
07 April 2005
The Crown offered no evidence in the case of R v Kevin Williams at the Old Bailey sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice today. He was formally acquitted of the charge by the trial judge Mrs Justice Heather Hallett.

Explaining the decision to the court, Richard Horwell, First Senior Treasury Counsel said:

"As is well known, British troops are engaged in Iraq as part of the Multinational Division which operates in the South East of the country. In July 2003, a Battle Group from the 1st Battalion King's Regiment was deployed to Iraq. It included a squadron of approximately 14 tanks and 100 men, known as Badger Squadron, from the 2 nd Royal Tank Regiment. Trooper Williams was a soldier in Badger Squadron.

"On 2 nd August 2003, Trooper Williams was on patrol with other soldiers near A d Dayr in South East Iraq. The patrol discovered six Iraqis moving a cart containing heavy machine gun ammunition. The patrol managed to detain three of the men, but one, Mr Said, ran off. Trooper Williams and another soldier, Corporal Blair, gave chase and followed him into the courtyard of a private dwelling. Despite attempts to restrain him, Mr Said refused to be handcuffed. During the attempts to restrain him, Trooper Williams shot Mr Said. Mr Said was unarmed and he died the following day in hospital.

"In February 2005, you heard two applications: one to dismiss the charge and the other to stay the proceedings on the basis that a civilian prosecution in a criminal
court, following the dismissal of military justice proceedings under the Army Act 1955, amounted to an abuse of process.

"On the 23 rd February 2005, when giving your rulings, you made a number of observations which are pertinent to the events of today.

"As to the decision by the Commanding Officer to dismiss the charge against Trooper Williams, you described the decision as one which had been made in good faith and which had not, in any sense, been part of an Army “cover-up”.

"In your ruling you said that there can be nothing wrong in principle with this prosecution as Parliament has seen fit to allow for concurrent jurisdiction in a case such as this. In addition you found that there can be no suggestion whatsoever that anyone connected with this case had succumbed improperly to political pressure or acted in anything other than good faith. As to the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Trooper Williams in this civilian court, you also described that as having been made in good faith. Indeed, throughout the argument, the defence had not sought to suggest otherwise.

"Your ruling highlighted the fact that in this very difficult case, experienced and well intentioned lawyers not only could but had come to quite contrary decisions as to whether Trooper Williams should be prosecuted for the killing of Mr Said.

"There is, of course, a duty upon the CPS constantly to review every decision to charge. The original decision by the CPS to prosecute Trooper Williams was taken after the most careful consideration but, having been taken, it has been subject to that process of review, particularly as new evidence has emerged.

"During the dismissal application, the defence called evidence from very senior Army officers as to the unique dangers which British forces faced in Iraq in 2003. You described those dangers in this way:

"The troops worked in dreadful physical conditions, never knowing when, in a moment, an apparently benign situation would turn into a lethal attack'.

"Some, but not the full extent, of that evidence was prefaced in prosecution statements taken from other members of Trooper Williams' squadron.

"Subsequent to the applications of February 2005, and noting your Ladyship's observations, the CPS again reviewed the case at the highest level and considered the importance of the factual disputes between Trooper Williams and Corporal Blair following, in particular, the evidence which had been called and other evidence which by then was available. The evidential test was further reviewed. In the light of the further evidence, and having revisited the original decision to prosecute, the Crown now takes the view that the factual disputes between Trooper Williams and Corporal Blair no longer have the same degree of importance once placed upon them. The appropriate test in law has always been Trooper Williams's actual perception of danger and he has consistently said that in a moment of crisis he believed that Corporal Blair's life, and that of his own, were at risk.

"It is now accepted that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. That is not, of course, the test which this Court had to apply during the recent application to dismiss the evidence. It is a higher test. It is a test which inevitably requires an element of subjectivity. But that test having been applied with that conclusion, Trooper Williams must have the benefit of it, hence the offering of no evidence this morning and the not guilty verdict which was returned."

The Attorney General referred the case to the CPS for it to decide whether criminal charges should be brought and the CPS subsequently asked the Metropolitan Police for assistance in collecting further evidence before reviewing the case. Trooper Kevin Williams was charged with murder on 7 September 2004.

A second case has been referred to the CPS by the Attorney General. This case is currently under review and is subject to an ongoing investigation by the Metropolitan Police. This case concerns the deaths of British soldier Sergeant Steven Roberts and Iraqi citizen Zahir Zabti Zaher on 24 th March 2003 at Al Zubayr, south of Basra.

No further cases involving military personnel in Iraq have been referred to the CPS.
 
#2
Score one for reality over the armchair generals. Are there any more cases like this ongoing in the UK?

In the US, we have Lt. Pantano, who did something very similar, but was charged by the military; I believe, like Williams, his immediate CoC had cleared him of any wrongdoing, before a pissed-off Sgt. - who'd been demoted to working as Pantano's signaller - made allegations two months later.
 
#3
I came in late on a news broadcast but I think it was this I heard - Gen Walker was explaining that decision was good for guys in area who might start thinking before shooting that they had better ring their brief in the instant they had to decide. Thought very supportive.
 
#4
Just a thought. But the Adult Learning Initiative Report quoted that the average reading age of our soldiers was around 5 (happy to receive an accuracy check).

If this is true, what is the average reading age required to read, and fully understand, a ROE card?

'Please sir, I was issued an ROE card, and although I was briefed on it, I never really understood what it meant. I have a reading age of 4 you see.'
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#5
CrapSpy said:
Just a thought. But the Adult Learning Initiative Report quoted that the average reading age of our soldiers was around 5 (happy to receive an accuracy check).
Really? That's a bit of a shocker if true. How do they get through the recruiting tests? Though I suppose it would explain why 'The Sun' is still so popular with soldiers.
 
#7
chickenpunk said:
CrapSpy said:
Just a thought. But the Adult Learning Initiative Report quoted that the average reading age of our soldiers was around 5 (happy to receive an accuracy check).
Really? That's a bit of a shocker if true. How do they get through the recruiting tests? Though I suppose it would explain why 'The Sun' is still so popular with soldiers.
Most of them end up in the Infantry/RAC, thereby being in a position where thay are more likely to shoot someone.

Quote from TES 1 Apr 05 - On a Bomb Disposal Tech:

'It was staggering to find somebody who was fully qualified, but still struggling to read instructions and who felt insecure on that account.'

This is a Bomb Disposal Tech we are talking about here. 8O

If this is the case with well qualified RE soldiers what hope is there that the average Infantryman has the necessary literacy skills to understand the implications of a ROE card?
 
#8
CrapSpy,

Your about right with the reading age, but it is no defence. Each year, every soldier does his ITD on the Law of Armed conflict and on OPTAG, he will have a lesson on the ROE. Aslo, the Pl Comd should, at least once, read the ROE card to his troops (this is also true of Part Ones).

Therefore having been taught the ROE and read the card, ignorance cannot be claimed.

Anyway, he got off so bully for him, the dirty arab was simply devivered a kenetic solution to his weapons smuggling problems.
 
#9
[/quote]
Quote from TES 1 Apr 05 - On a Bomb Disposal Tech:

'It was staggering to find somebody who was fully qualified, but still struggling to read instructions and who felt insecure on that account.'

This is a Bomb Disposal Tech we are talking about here. 8O

If this is the case with well qualified RE soldiers what hope is there that the average Infantryman has the necessary literacy skills to understand the implications of a ROE card?[/quote]

Glad to see it was a wedge EOD and not an AT!
Back to the main point though, im sure CPS only prosecute when they are >90% certain of a conviction? Does this mean that every soldier who has to shoot some one in the line of duty end up in court? Personally i would rather be in jail than in a body bag, but this ridiculous situation is going to end up with soldiers gettting killed/beaten/taken hostage/weapons forcefully taken!
It isnt going to take long for the duty thug in Basra to cotton on to this state of affairs and use it to their advantage.
Final thought on this, I hope the trooper cleared is now putting together a claim for a rather large amount of compensation?
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#10
Great news for Tpr Wiliams, just a bloody shame that he had to go through the torment of being accused and arrested.

Stateside he might have been able to sue the arrse off the mong who started the ball rolling, but I imagine he'll just push it to the back of his mind and soldier on.

You did your job properly mate, crack on !
 
#12
cheesypoptart said:
Score one for reality over the armchair generals.

'kin right!

I'm not too sure the CPS are the right people to be applying charging decision tests etc to a military case.

After all they do a good job of screwing up civvy ones!

"im sure CPS only prosecute when they are >90% certain of a conviction"

not too sure about the 90% bit, but as far as I know it's only when there's a 'prima facae' case with a realistic prospect of conviction i.e. if the evidence weighted on the side of the prosecution was taken at face value, would there be a realistic prospect of conviction - not taking defences into account.

bloody good job he got the right result. Hopefully send a good message to any other wee t*ssers who require a 5.56mm re-education!
 
#13
Cutaway said:
Great news for Tpr Wiliams, just a bloody shame that he had to go through the torment of being accused and arrested.

Stateside he might have been able to sue the arrse off the mong who started the ball rolling, but I imagine he'll just push it to the back of his mind and soldier on.

You did your job properly mate, crack on !
To all on this site and all elsewhere - thank you for the support. The legal team of which I am but 1 have worked to achieve what was simply a true and just result.
We are all thrilled for him - but more so humbled by his professionalism and dignity under intolerable pressure. We are all indebted to the Regiment, the support they have given and others including General Walker.
He is like all the other lads we have come across - a genuine and honest guy who does nothing more or less that what his country asks of him - and to the highest standard. It is from all of us a genuine privelege to have been able to see that right was finally achieved.
 
#15
The fact is this only came to the CPS because the Commanding Officer, rightly as it has eventually been proved, dismissed this case before refering it to Court-Martial. However, this was seen by the lawyers, who now seem to be running our country, as evidence as some sort of Army cover up. If it had been referred to Court Martial by Tpr Williams' CO the chances are that the Army Prosecuting Authority would not have even gone as far as referring it to Court-Martial and if they did it would have been thrown out after the preliminary hearing: as it has been just now in the Old Bailey.

That Tpr Williams' CO displayed common sense and judgement in assessing the incident seems to have cost Tpr Williams and his Regiment no end of pain for what seems like almost a year. Yes, ignorance of the law is no excuse but CO of the RTR is not a fcking lawyer. Also he acted within his authority at the time in dismissing the charge. OK, the system has now been changed so CO's can't dismiss these charges but my heart goes out to Tpr Williams for the disgusting way he has been treated over the last few months by our legal system. I hope he enjoys a good few beers or ten for at least the next week.
 
#16
martial said:
Cutaway said:
Great news for Tpr Wiliams, just a bloody shame that he had to go through the torment of being accused and arrested.

Stateside he might have been able to sue the arrse off the mong who started the ball rolling, but I imagine he'll just push it to the back of his mind and soldier on.

You did your job properly mate, crack on !
To all on this site and all elsewhere - thank you for the support. The legal team of which I am but 1 have worked to achieve what was simply a true and just result.
We are all thrilled for him - but more so humbled by his professionalism and dignity under intolerable pressure. We are all indebted to the Regiment, the support they have given and others including General Walker.
He is like all the other lads we have come across - a genuine and honest guy who does nothing more or less that what his country asks of him - and to the highest standard. It is from all of us a genuine privelege to have been able to see that right was finally achieved.
Congratulations martial, good effort, and nice message.
 
#17
The further report in Friday Telegraph is as follows
Soldier who shot Iraqi is cleared of murder
By Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor
(Filed: 08/04/2005)

The first British soldier accused of murder in post-war Iraq left court yesterday with "his honour intact and his head held high".

The judge suggested that the decision to prosecute him had been a "betrayal" of British troops.

Trooper Kevin Williams
Trooper Kevin Williams

Trooper Kevin Williams, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, had been due to stand trial at the Old Bailey. He was formally cleared after the Crown Prosecution Service accepted that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.

The CPS abandoned the case after the judge, Mrs Justice Hallett, said that a potential juror might well decide that Trooper Williams had "acted reasonably in the heat of the moment".

In a ruling six weeks ago, which may only now be reported, she accepted that "many people genuinely believe that this prosecution of Trooper Williams is a betrayal of soldiers who risk their lives for their country and who are expected to make difficult decisions in split seconds".

However, she ruled that there was enough evidence to justify putting the case before a jury.

The CPS became involved after charges were dismissed by the soldier's commanding officer on the advice of the Army Legal Service.

Trooper Williams, 22, from Burnley, Lancs, was on patrol near Basra with other soldiers on Aug 2, 2003, when they saw six Iraqis moving a cart carrying heavy ammunition.

Three were detained but the others ran off, including Hassan Abbad Said, a lawyer who had nine children. Trooper Williams and a military policeman, Cpl Jeffrey Blair, chased Mr Said into a building but he refused to surrender. After a struggle, Trooper Williams shot him in the back and he died the next day.

Trooper Williams told officers that he had been acting in self-defence. At first, Cpl Blair supported this, saying that Mr Said had been trying to grab their rifles. He later changed his account, saying they were not in danger from the unarmed man and that Trooper Williams must have panicked.

In November 2003 Lt Col Charlie Barnett of the Army Legal Service advised that there was no prima facie case that would justify referral to a higher authority.

Trooper Williams's commanding officer took the advice but other officers questioned it, which Mrs Justice Hallett found "somewhat surprising". The case was passed to the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, who decided that a prosecution should be brought in the ordinary courts, rather than under military law.

In her February ruling, Mrs Justice Hallett dismissed defence attempts to have the case thrown out for lack of evidence and on the grounds that it was oppressive. There was no evidence that the prosecution was politically motivated, she said.

But, in the light of her comments, the CPS offered no evidence yesterday. Richard Horwell, the senior prosecuting counsel, said the appropriate test had always been Trooper Williams's perception of danger.

David Nathan, QC, for Trooper Williams, said the decision to drop the charge did not undo what his client had had to live through for many months.

"Not only has this been an ordeal for this young man but … this is bound to undermine confidence and morale and the effectiveness of our troops when they are facing terrible and difficult situations.

"Trooper Williams's conduct has been vindicated and we ask you to allow him to walk from this court without doubt, reservation or qualification, his honour intact and his head held high."

The soldier, flanked in court by senior officers and old comrades, including a Chelsea Pensioner in dress uniform, posed for photographs but made no comment.

His solicitor, Robert Wong, said he had received "tremendous support" from his regiment and the public, for which he was grateful.
Given the usual talent of some reporters for getting things wrong there are a couple of points here of interest. CO dismissed initial case on DALS advice but other officers disagreed. Whice officers - those answerable to CO or others elsewhere. Why did they disagree in the face of the system set up to maintain legal correctness - does their action not undermine this?
The 'witness' who changed his story. Was he telling lies in his first statement (supporting Williams) or his subsequent version? Has anyone asked why - the other way round seems understandable but why change after interference with CO's legally backed ruling.
 
#19
This little quote is the one that sticks in my throat:

"Three were detained but the others ran off, including Hassan Abbad Said, a lawyer who had nine children. Trooper Williams and a military policeman, Cpl Jeffrey Blair, chased Mr Said into a building but he refused to surrender. After a struggle, Trooper Williams shot him in the back and he died the next day.

Trooper Williams told officers that he had been acting in self-defence. At first, Cpl Blair supported this, saying that Mr Said had been trying to grab their rifles. He later changed his account, saying they were not in danger from the unarmed man and that Trooper Williams must have panicked."

Well thanks a bunch Cpl Blair, next time you may not find anyone to help you :roll: .....
 
#20
Corporal said:
chickenpunk said:
Really? That's a bit of a shocker if true. How do they get through the recruiting tests?
They are Officers. :wink:
I haven't seen a touch screen RoE card yet,

A rumour I heard was that somebody took his dog into a recruiting office and the said dog hit the computer screen with its paw a few times,, could've joined the the light division as I heard the results went.
 

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