Navy medic jailed for refusing rifle training

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The Independent Online

A Royal Navy medic who refused rifle training before he was due to deploy to Afghanistan because of a "moral objection" to bearing arms was sentenced to seven months' detention yesterday.

Leading Medical Assistant Michael Lyons, 25, was demoted to the rank of able seaman and dismissed from the service after being found guilty of disobeying a lawful order. The court martial was told that Lyons had been ordered to deploy to Camp Bastion, Helmand in May last year. But he refused rifle training and asked to be "re-rolled for non-combative duties".

An appeal to the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors was rejected on the grounds that he was a political not conscientious objector.

Lyons, the great-grandson of a decorated Second World War hero, told the committee that he had been swayed by documents on WikiLeaks: "I came to the conclusion I couldn't serve on a moral ground and I couldn't see any political reason for being there," he added.

Sentencing Lyons, Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor said: "We are undecided whether your views are genuine or you grasped the straw of conscientious objection as you didn't wish to serve your term (in Afghanistan)."

Emma Sangster, of Forces Watch, said outside the court that Lyons' wife, Lillian, was "horrified" by the "extremely harsh" sentence.