Senior officers blocked witnesses from giving evidence which would have exposed the shambolic state of affairs on the frontlines of Afghanistan during the trial of Sergeant Alexander Blackman, known as ‘Marine A’.
Key witnesses Colonel Oliver Lee OBE QVCS and Sergeant-Major Stephen Moran were, according to written evidence reported by The Times, prevented from providing evidence by senior officers.
Defence chiefs are described as pursuing a “vendetta” against the Royal Marines Commando, who served his country with distinction for 15 years and carried out several tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Northern Ireland.
Sergeant-Major Moran claimed he was told to “stay out of it” by superiors after they discovered he had contacted Sgt Blackman’s legal team.
Colonel Lee, who resigned his officer’s commission in protest at the way Sgt Blackman’s case was handled, claimed he was “actively prevented [from testifying] by attempts to silence me from within the Royal Marines”.
“I felt very strongly that it was my responsibility to be in involved in [the court martial], such that Sgt Blackman’s proceedings were adequately transparent and that the full context within which he was operating at the time when he acted as he did was made clear to those who were deliberating over his future,” he told Channel 4 News in December 2016.
“Firstly, I felt the situation in which Sgt Blackman had found himself in Afghanistan was one that reasonably more could have been done in advance to avoid,” Lee asserted.
“And secondly, and perhaps more fundamentally specific to my resignation, the fact that those factors, in spite of my efforts to make this so, were not then included in the proceedings against him.
“And that seemed to me, in an organisation that absolutely fundamentally relies on the … sacrosanct relationship between command and commanded, those people who are in command and those people who are working beneath that command, it seemed like a serious breakdown of that relationship and I didn’t find that able to be tolerated.”
Colonel Lee had previously expressed that he was “disturbed and surprised” by the efforts of military chiefs to cover up the circumstances Sgt Blackman’s unit was subjected to, accusing them of “a failure of moral courage”.
Sgt Blackman is said to have been suffering from adjustment disorder when he “executed” a captive terrorist who had already been fatally injured by fire from helicopter gunships. Constant patrols and poor conditions in his outpost, a hastily-built, roofless compound exposed to scorching heat and constructed with inadequate defences, are said to be eroded the “superb” marine’s mental health.