Plea for a new inquest into Red Caps' deaths rejected

Cpl Simon Miller and L/Cpl Benjamin John McGowan Hyde Image copyright MOD
Image caption Cpl Simon Miller and L/Cpl Benjamin John McGowan Hyde also died in the attack

The families of four military police officers killed in Iraq have had a plea for a fresh inquest into their deaths rejected by the Attorney General.

The men died when a mob attacked a police station they had been posted to in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

In 2014, their families asked to apply to the High Court for a new inquest on the grounds of fresh evidence.

But Jeremy Wright said none of the grounds of challenge set out had a reasonable "prospect of success".

Corporals Russell Aston, 30, and Simon Miller, 21, and Lance Corporals Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, and Tom Keys, 20, were on a routine operation to train local police when they were attacked by a 400-strong crowd.

They died alongside comrades Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell and Corporal Paul Graham Long.

An inquest in 2006 found the six military policemen - also known as Red Caps - had been unlawfully killed.

Coroner Nicholas Gardiner found the men had been given antiquated radios and inadequate ammunition, but ruled their deaths could not have been avoided.

Image copyright MOD
Image caption L/Cpl Thomas Keys and Cpl Russell Aston were also killed

Their families wrote to the attorney general asking for leave to apply to the High Court for a fresh inquest saying new evidence had emerged which suggested their deaths could have been avoided.

Evidence from two former soldiers was submitted to Mr Wright which claimed there was intelligence from GCHQ - the UK's electronic surveillance agency - that an attack was imminent and could have helped prevent the officers' deaths.

In a statement, Mr Wright said he was unable to authorise a referral to the High Court, adding: "I offer my deepest sympathy to the families for their loss - and my gratitude for the sacrifices that their sons made for this country.

"I have given this matter considerable thought but, as disappointing as it will be for the families involved, it would not be right to pass this matter to the High Court when the tests for a new inquest are not met."

In February 2010, Iraqi authorities took eight people into custody over the deaths. Six had charges against them dropped and two stood trial.

Iraqis Hamza Hateer and Mussa Ismael al Fartusi were later cleared of murdering the six men at Baghdad's criminal court due to a lack of evidence.

More on this story