BBC vindicated on friendly fire claim

A BBC documentary that questioned the Ministry of Defence’s conclusion that one of its soldiers was killed by Iraqis was vindicated last week after the MoD admitted he was killed by friendly fire.

An episode of the BBC Two series Fighting the War presented evidence contesting the official version of events that led to the death of Royal Marine Christopher Maddison, who was on patrol with the 539 Assault Squadron when it came under attack from anti-tank missiles and light arms fire on 30 March.

The Royal Military Police’s report filed after Maddison’s death concluded that “the incident was caused by enemy action”, but evidence from BBC journalists embedded with the squadron at the time suggested the soldier was killed by friendly fire.

At the time, Simon Ford, executive producer of Fighting the War, said the MoD’s conclusion that Maddison died from an attack by Iraqi soldiers “cannot be drawn from evidence on the ground”.

According to evidence gathered by the BBC film crew, Maddison’s landing craft was “only about 1.6 km from the marines who fired three Milan antitank rockets”, which was well within their range. The MoD had initially concluded that the craft had been outside the range.

However, after the programme was broadcast in July, the MoD reopened investigations into Maddison’s death.

Last week, a spokesman for the Marines confirmed: “The board of inquiry report has found that Corporal Maddison’s death was a result of friendly fire.”

By Wale Azeez

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