Devon

Plymouth navy 'objector' medic before court martial

A Royal Navy medic from Plymouth has appeared before a court martial on a charge of wilful disobedience for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan.

Leading Medical Assistant Michael Lyons refused to carry out rifle training ahead of deployment, stating he was a conscientious objector.

The 24-year-old said he could not serve on moral grounds after reading about the conflict on the Wikileaks website.

The hearing at Portsmouth Naval Base was adjourned until 14 April.

'No political reason'

Last December, Mr Lyons became the first person to appear before the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO) for 14 years.

It is understood that the committee rejected his claim but the court martial heard on Friday that he was still awaiting formal notification from Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

The committee heard that Lyons decided he could not serve in Afghanistan after he read material about the conflict on the Wikileaks website.

Lyons, who comes from a military family and was the great-grandson of a decorated World War II hero, told the committee he "came to the conclusion I couldn't serve on a moral ground and I couldn't see any political reason for being there".

He said that he was further put off when he learnt he might not be able to treat everyone, regardless of who they were.

He said: "It seems from previous testimony and courses I've done that even going out as a medic with all good intention, if you're at a patrol base or forward operating base, it's likely you'll have to use your weapon and will have to turn civilians away who are in need of medical aid.

"If more people in my position stood up, there would be a lot less innocent lives lost around the world."

The hearing was told that his was only the third court martial to be held with conscientious objection as a defence.

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