SAS dead named in landmark decision

Plans to keep the identities of SAS fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan secret were in tatters last night, following a coroner's landmark decision to allow the naming of two troopers killed in a Puma helicopter crash in Iraq in November 2007.

The Hereford coroner David Halpern revoked an order stopping publication of the soldiers' names. His earlier prohibition order under the Contempt of Court Act set a precedent which imposed a blanket ban on identifying Special Air Service and Special Boat Service casualties.

The Ministry of Defence, acting on behalf of the Director of Special Forces, had sought to impose the restrictions on grounds of national security, the human rights of bereaved families, and aspects of common law. However, the ministry has conceded their position was untenable after lengthy legal consultations.

The development allows Lee Fitzsimmons and John Battersby, the two SAS members who died in the helicopter crash at Salman Pak, to be identified. A third SAS soldier, Nicholas Brown, 34, killed in a fire-fight in Baghdad four months ago, can also be named. Two other SAS members, Major James Stenner and Sergeant Norman Patterson, were killed in Baghdad on New Year's Day 2004 in a car crash.

Simon McKay, a solicitor from the firm McKay Law, acting for Trooper Fitzsimmons' family, said: "They are obviously very, very upset and trying to come to terms with their loss. They have followed the legal case and decided, after the order was lifted, to put their views on record." The Ministry of Defence said it had no comment to make on the matter.

The military has shrouded in secrecy the identities of SAS and SBS personnel. This policy has been particularly prevalent in Iraq, where Special Forces have often been involved in action with American forces outside the British-controlled south.

Trooper Fitzsimmons was 26 when he died. He applied to join the Royal Marines while still at school, gaining entry at the second attempt to join 42 Commando in 1999 aged 17 and transfer to 45 Commando in 2004. He saw active service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trooper Fitzsimmons's mother, Jacqui Auty, described recent months as "absolute hell". She said: Nobody wants to die at a young age, but Lee wouldn't have shied away from doing his duty."

Identities of the fallen SAS men

Nick Brown

Brown, of 22 SAS, died in a firefight with Shia fighters in Baghdad on 26 March this year fighting alongside US forces which had targeted the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. He was said to have been part of a snatch squad sent to arrest a senior militia commander which ran into an ambush.

Lee Fitzsimmons and John Battersby

Fitzsimmons, 26, and Battersby were killed when their RAF Puma helicopter crashed near the Baghdad suburb of Salman Pak. They had been part of a team which had been investigating reports that insurgents had been collecting material from Salman Pak, a weapons site and laboratory during Saddam Hussein's time. The crash, in which 12 others were injured including two other members of the SAS, was not, it was found, due to enemy fire.

James Stenner and Norman Patterson

Major Stenner, 30, and Sergeant Patterson, 28, originally of the Welsh Guards and the Cheshire Regiment, were killed in a road accident in Baghdad after attending a meeting with American soldiers engaged in hunting members of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before