Are the killers of Terry Lloyd getting away with his murder?

John Simpson, the veteran TV reporter who was himself hit by 'friendly fire', on the shooting of his ITN colleague by US troops

It is highly unlikely that the US soldiers who killed the ITN correspondent Terry Lloyd and two members of his team during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 will be brought to justice.

Lloyd was injured in crossfire between Iraqi troops and American tanks outside Basra. He was picked up by a makeshift ambulance. As it drove away, the Americans fired on it and Lloyd was killed. His translator, Hussein Osman, and his cameraman, Fred Nerac, whose body has never been found, were also killed.

At last week's inquest on Lloyd's death, there was a verdict of unlawful killing. His daughter, Chelsey, said his death amounted to murder; his widow, Lynn, called it a war crime. The coroner will ask the Attorney-General to press charges.

Yet even if the British government were prepared to put pressure on the Bush administration, it would almost certainly come to nothing. American soldiers who kill civilians through carelessness or brutality in battle receive a remarkable degree of protection from the US authorities. There is little investigation, and a soldier can usually clear himself by saying he opened fire because he believed his life was in danger.

Recently, allegations that US soldiers have massacred Iraqi civilians have been taken more seriously, but there has been no action over civilian killings during the invasion itself.

Lloyd was an excellent and brave journalist who chose to work independently of the US and British forces in Iraq. Both the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence wanted reporters to be "embedded" with their forces during the invasion. Embedded journalists were subject to censorship, and it was hard for them to get an independent view of what was going on.

The Pentagon and the MoD disapproved of the so-called unilaterals like Lloyd. By the time this atmosphere of disapproval has filtered down to the front-line soldiers, it can occasionally seem like a licence to kill.

Some days earlier, in northern Iraq, my television team and I were bombed by a US navy plane while we were with a group of US and Kurdish special forces. Eighteen people, all Kurds, died. One of those killed was my translator.

The plane was flying at a height of only 300 metres. The pilot must have seen that many of the 20 vehicles below were US Humvees, and that every vehicle carried the big orange markings which showed they were from the Coalition. Even so, he dropped a 1,000lb bomb on us.

Later, I had an off-the-record meeting with the pilot's overall commander. He was apologetic. But it was clear that the pilot responsible had only been questioned once, and that he had not been disciplined.

I investigated the possibilities of taking legal action on behalf of the 18 people who had been killed. But the lawyer I consulted told me not to waste my time and money.

The two cases are very different. We were bombed by accident. Lloyd and his colleagues were killed deliberately. To have fired on them, and to have targeted an ambulance, were contraventions of the Geneva Convention.

But the response of the US authorities was the same in both incidents. They showed their armed forces that criminal brutality and criminal carelessness would not be punished.

Since the First World War, every war in which the Americans have fought has been marked by unnecessary civilian deaths and wholly avoidable "friendly fire" incidents. Now, it seems, there may be a new distinguishing feature of American wars: the killing of journalists.

John Simpson is the BBC's world affairs editor. He is currently reporting on the trial of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments