The Ministry of Defence has finally given in to ITN’s demands for a formal investigation into the disappearance of cameraman Fred Nerac and interpreter Hussein Osman, who went missing during the crossfire incident in southern Iraq that killed ITV journalist Terry Lloyd in March.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon confirmed to ITN this week that a Royal Military Police investigation was “now underway” into the disappearance of the two journalists who were declared missing on the second day of the war in Iraq.
The move follows several appeals from the broadcaster and Nerac’s wife Fabienne, who is also asking to see the Prime Minister.
In reply to a request from ITN, Hoon initially said that his ministry would only investigate the disappearance if the broadcaster came up with evidence of a “war crime”.
But a further letter from ITN chairman Mark Wood on 12 May, urging him to reconsider and dispatch military police on to the case, finally led Hoon to overturn his original decision.
The British military, which is the administrator in Basra and the area in which ITN has been carrying out its own investigation, had co-operated with the broadcaster, according to its chief executive and editor-in-chief Stewart Purvis, but until now could not actively investigate, because it did not have the authority from the MoD.
It is unclear as to whether ITN will carry on with its own investigation.