Attorney General rules out fresh inquest into Red Cap deaths in Iraq mob attack

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A call by the families of four military policemen killed in Iraq for a fresh inquest into their deaths has been rejected by the Government's chief legal adviser.

Corporals Russell Aston, 30, and Simon Miller, 21, and Lance Corporals Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, and Tom Keys, 20, were killed when a 400-strong mob descended on a police station in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

In 2014 their families wrote to Attorney General Jeremy Wright seeking leave to apply to the High Court for a new inquest on the grounds that fresh evidence had come to light suggesting their deaths could have been prevented.

However, in a statement, Mr Wright said he had concluded that none of the grounds of challenge set out had a reasonable "prospect of success" and he could not therefore authorise a referral to the High Court.

"I offer my deepest sympathy to the families for their loss - and my gratitude for the sacrifices that their sons made for this country," he said.

"I have given this matter considerable thought but, as disappointing as it will be for the families involved, it would not be right to pass this matter to the High Court when the tests for a new Inquest are not met."

The original inquest in March 2006 found that the four Red Caps, as military police officers are known, had been unlawfully killed.

Oxfordshire Coroner Nicholas Gardiner wrote to the Government expressing concern about the lack of ammunition issued to the men, inadequate communications and the roadworthiness of the vehicles they were driving.

However a dossier of new evidence from two former soldiers was submitted to Mr Wright in support of a claim that there was intelligence from GCHQ - the secret electronic "listening" agency - that an attack was imminent and could have been used to prevent the men's deaths.

Lawyers representing the families said the information came from a former SAS lieutenant colonel, known as Colonel X, and another former officer identified as Captain T.

In addition, it has been claimed that four of the Red Caps had been captured by the mob and were later executed by an insurgent called Rufeiq, a known target of the allied forces.