Plymouth Royal Navy medic 'refused rifle training'

A Royal Navy medic refused to undergo rifle training on "moral and ethical grounds" ahead of deployment to Afghanistan, a court martial has heard.

Leading Medical Assistant Michael Lyons, 25, of Plymouth, Devon, is accused of wilful disobedience over the incident in Portsmouth last year.

He believed the Afghan war was unlawful and asked to be "re-roled on non-combative duties", the court heard.

He had already lodged an appeal to be discharged as a conscientious objector.

Mr Lyons's appeal was still to be heard by the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO), the court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base was told.

The medic had been sent for a pre-deployment course on how to use the SA80 service rifle at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth on 20 September 2010.

'Polite objections'

He was ordered to commence the course by Warrant Officer Robert Bainbridge but refused, the court heard.

As a medic, he objected to being trained to use a weapon and was against the war itself, the hearing was told.

Commander Darren Reed, prosecuting, said Mr Lyons told police in interview: "He felt he wasn't able to carry out the order on moral and ethical grounds.

"He did believe that was an unlawful order."

Mr Bainbridge, who retired from the navy in April, said: "He felt the war in Afghanistan was unjust but I wasn't there to send him to war, I was there to teach him how to use a rifle."

He said he then asked Mr Lyons if he had a medical reason for not joining the course before sending him back to his normal base at HMS Drake, in Plymouth.

Regulating police officer James Houghton, who witnessed the incident, told the court Mr Lyons was "polite at all times" and simply stated his moral objections.

"I did ask him to explain, [he said that] it was against his moral belief to bear arms, he had taken advice from a website called Stand At Ease."

The hearing continues.

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