Widows of military police in Iraq get secret MOD pay-outs of £400,000

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Indy Politics

The widows of two Redcaps murdered in Iraq have received secret payments of £200,000 each from the Ministry of Defence, it was revealed yesterday.

Corporals Russell Aston, 30, and Paul Long, 24, were among six Royal Military Police officers killed by a mob in the town of Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

Along with Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, Cpl Simon Miller, 21, L/Cpl Benjamin Hyde, 23, and L/Cpl Thomas Keys, 20, the men were shot after becoming cornered in a police station.

The men's families have accused the Ministry of Defence of sending the men into a "powder keg" situation without adequate communications equipment or ammunition.

It was reported yesterday that widows Anna Aston and Gemma Long have now received payouts, but relatives of the other victims have yet to see any compensation.

Cpl Long's mother Pat said: "For me, it's not about money. It shows they are admitting liability but why don't they tell us the truth?"

Cpl Aston's father Mike said he welcomed the payments as a sign the Ministry of Defence was "accepting responsibility" for what happened. He, Reg Keys and John Miller have fought to get certain Army officers court martialed, but have been told by the Ministry of Defence that there will be no prosecutions.

They have now taken their case to the Attorney General to ask him to consider criminal proceedings.

Mr Aston said: "The fact that the Ministry of Defence has now paid out suggests it is accepting responsibility and that can only do our case some good."

An inquest this March into the men's deaths heard they had left their base at Al Amarah without satellite telephones and only 50 rounds of ammunition each.

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