Saturday, October 11, 2014

UK Major stripped of gallantry medal

In February 2012 Major Robert Michael Armstrong appeared before The Court Martial at Colchester, Essex, and admitted four charges of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. He was dismissed and handed a year’s imprisonment suspended for two years. The charges related to retaining classified material but also to helping to write his own citation for the Military Cross (a level 3 gallantry award). In October 2014 he was stripped of the award by Her Majesty the Queen.

It is believed to be the first time the Queen has withdrawn a gallantry medal from a serviceman. The London Gazette, the official public record, published a notice which confirmed the award "shall be cancelled and annulled". Previously it was possible for a court martial to strip a serviceman of the Victoria Cross (the highest gallantry award in HM Forces) as part of the sentence. King George V abolished the practice as he felt so strongly that, ‘no matter the crime committed by anyone on whom the VC has been conferred, the decoration should not be forfeited. Even were a VC to be sentenced to be hanged for murder, he should be allowed to wear his VC on the scaffold.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The MoD can confirm that an investigation has concluded into the circumstances surrounding the award of a gallantry medal relating to an incident in Afghanistan." Maj Armstrong was attached to the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan in 2008.

His Military Cross citation read: ''While mentoring the Afghan National Army vehicle patrol Armstrong showed consistent bravery and inspirational leadership. As a result of his calm leadership under fire, losses were prevented and the lives of those injured were saved.''

At the time the inquiry was launched an Army spokesman said: "The integrity of the operational honours system is a matter of utmost importance to us. Any suggestion that it has fallen short of the very high standards that we set ourselves are taken extremely seriously and are investigated thoroughly."

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