‘Any new SAS claims will be investigated’

Any fresh allegations about the behaviour of the SAS in Afghanistan will be investigated, armed forces minister, James Heappey, has said.

“Nobody in our organisation, no matter how special, gets a bye on the law,” he told MPs.

Labour has called for a probe into claims that an SAS unit repeatedly killed unarmed men and detainees.

According to BBC Panorama, the unit may have unlawfully killed 54 people in one six-month tour in Afghanistan.

The BBC found evidence suggesting the former head of special forces failed to pass on evidence to a murder inquiry.

The Ministry of Defence said it could not comment on specific allegations, but that declining to comment should not be taken as acceptance of the allegations’ factual accuracy.

A MoD spokesperson said that British forces “served with courage and professionalism” in Afghanistan and were held to the “highest standards”.

Giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee, Mr Heappey said: “We were aware of some of the allegations that I understand to be in this evening’s Panorama. They’ve been investigated, I believe, twice and on each occasion hasn’t met the evidential threshold.

“But, let’s be clear, if there are new allegations, new evidence that comes to light as a consequence of the Panorama investigation, and that is then passed to the service police for further investigation, we will absolutely investigate it.

“Nobody in our organisation, no matter how special, gets a bye on the law – and that’s that.”

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, has yet to comment on the allegations.

British special forces killed hundreds of people on night raids in Afghanistan, but were some of the shootings executions? BBC Panorama’s Richard Bilton uncovers new evidence and tracks down eyewitnesses.

The BBC understood that General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, the former head of UK Special Forces, was briefed about the alleged unlawful killings when he was appointed in 2012 but did not pass on the evidence to the Royal Military Police, even after the RMP began a murder investigation into the SAS squadron.

General Carleton-Smith, who went on to become head of the Army before stepping down last month, declined to comment for this story. -BBC

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