1,000 Territorial Army soldiers failed gun test

Nearly 1,000 Territorial Army soldiers were sent to fight in Iraq despite failing their weapons test, a court martial heard today.

A total of 949 part-time soldiers failed to achieve the required standard or were trained by instructors who had not passed the test themselves. But because the figures were only based on records over an eight-month period, the number could have been as high as 2,300, the court was told.

The figure was revealed during the court martial of reservist Lance Corporal Ian Blaymire, who is charged with the manslaughter of a colleague while serving in Iraq.

Sergeant John Nightingale, 32, a reservist from Guiseley, West Yorkshire, died almost instantly after being hit at point-blank range in the chest by a bullet from an A2 rifle in the Shabah Military Camp in Iraq on 23 September last year.

Blaymire, 23, a plumber from Leeds, was appearing at a court martial at Caterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

The hearing continues.

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