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Forget Sgt Blackman

Sgt Blackman has finally been released from prison and I now hope we have finally heard the last of him.

Unfortunately, I do not think that will be the case.There’s talk of a book deal and already his barrister, Jonathan Goldberg, would you believe has been to Hollywood discussing the possibility of a film being made. Tom Hardy playing Blackman and Kate Winslett playing his wife. I sincerely hope these two actors do not tarnish their reputations. They should have nothing whatsoever to do with this.

There was talk, before his release, of Sgt Blackman returning to the Marines. I think the top brass in the Royal Marines decided against this suggestion because, despite a great deal of support from the rank and file of the Marines there was little, if any, support from senior officers.

They were noticeably absent from any rallies or comment of support in the media.

Despite a long and proud history, and acknowledged as one of the worlds elite Commando and light infantry forces with many battle honours dating back to their inception in 1755, this without doubt has been a stain on the reputation and good name of the Royal Marines and senior officers will know that this will not be forgotten any time soon.

I very much doubt if the Royal Marine museum at Southsea in Hampshire will be telling Sgt Blackman’s story, although in the eyes of many Marines he is a hero.

I don’t think anyone, especially the military, is naive enough to think that this sort of thing does not go on in battle.

We’ve all heard of the things insurgents do to captured soldiers and innocent civilians. A television programme talking to colleagues of Sgt Blackman and other soldiers who have experienced first hand the ferociousness in the heat of battle hinted that incidents like this could happen knowing what treatment a captured British soldier may expect.

But of course, ‘what the eye doesn’t see...’Unfortunately for Sgt Blackman though we all saw. We saw a group of soldiers milling around the prone body of an insurgent clearly not under fire as they were all standing up.

Sgt Blackman appeared calm and lucid enough to quote the Geneva Convention acknowledging the fact that he had indeed broken it and even quoting a piece from Hamlet by Shakespeare: ‘Shuffle off this mortal coil.’ It was then proved at the re-trial Sgt Blackman’s judgement was impaired and he was suffering from ‘diminished responsibility.’

There is a lesson to be learnt here. If you are going to kill an unarmed wounded insurgent, ensure the rest of your squad have turned off their body/helmet cams. And what of that wounded insurgent. Let’s not forget he was someone’s son, brother, father, husband.

And yes, given half a chance he may well have done the same to Sgt Blackman. But in that instance Blackman was no better than him. But the British soldier is governed by the Geneva Convention and that is why the British Army is the most respected army in the world by the way it conducts itself on or off the battle field.

Sgt Blackman let down the Army and the Royal Marines but more importantly himself.

At the start of my letter I mentioned the possibility of a book, even a film. Lets not glamorise it. Sgt Blackman did nothing brave or courageous that day, he shot an unarmed man in cold blood. Nothing more.

When the BBC news reported his release from prison it said at the end of the piece: “Sgt Blackman leaves prison a free man, not however an innocent man.”

That sums it up.

B TOMLIN, Headlands Grove, Swindon

Gill was right, Jeff

JEFF Adams takes a break from implying that people who reject his literal interpretation of his Bible must surely end up as eternal guests of the devil. Now he writes to mangle the truth about Muslims and support the vilification of them.

(His statement “vilification and criticism are interchangeable terms is wrong as he could verify quickly in any dictionary.)

He writes. “… those who wish to wear (the burka) have no intention of segregating.” (sic) I think this is a Freudian slip and he means the opposite.

But the statement is true. The majority of Muslims in the UK today are to be found in our schools and workplaces and are part of our community.

It is possible to find quotes in all religious books which argue the superiority of the chosen.

The Old Testament reports on a God who is extremely aggravated by his chosen people’s continual disobedient mixing with their neighbours.

Because most religious foundation books were written in ferociously patriarchal societies where property passed through the male line they preach a subordinate position of women, Christian Bibles included.

Mr Adams refers to child marriage but this is cultural practice which sadly exists amongst various religions. A New York Times article reported on a survey which, “found child marriage or forced marriage, or both, in families of many faiths, including Muslim, Christian (particularly Catholic), Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh.

I have seen child and forced marriage in the Orthodox Jewish community, and I know survivors from Mormon and Unification Church backgrounds.”

And, “In Ethiopia, for instance, child marriage is embedded in the customs of Orthodox Christians “

For most Muslims marriage is a contract which can only be entered into freely and this rules out child marriage.

Mr Adams likes to exaggerate and distort differences between Islam and other religions, on marriage rules for instance.

He could have informed us that divorce is accepted in Islam but a sin according to the Bible. His notion of Sharia as a legal institution is simply ridiculous.

Mr Adams shares his fevered fantasy that women who want to wear Burkas are conspiring to come to Britain to build mosques on ruined churches and he refers to “many Britons” who think they are aliens.

I think the description given by Gill Harris, quoted in Mr Adam’s opening sentence, fits like a glove.

PETER SMITH, Woodside Avenue, Swindon

New homes need water

IT WAS with some disquiet I read the article about building 8,000 new homes at South Marston, only to remember that I have raised this question before.

Where is Swindon to find the extra water from? I remember the upper Thames and the River Kennet running dry some years ago and there were fewer houses here then. Nothing was learnt. Still the building continues.

Also what plans are afoot to increase the sewage facilities to cope with the extra waste? I hear nothing about that.

How will the people who choose to live in these new houses get to work on the congested roads, that will have to cope with the possibilities of 8,000 to 16,000 cars. Where will they work?

I live within sight of Marlborough Road and can clearly see the impact that building at Coate and Wichelstowe has had. Try moving on that road between 7.30am and 9am and the return in late afternoon.

Now new Swindonions will be caught up at Stratton. There will be long hours spent polluting the air we breathe as cars become gridlocked.

As global warming increases the likelihood of drought, isn’t it time Swindon started to dig a massive reservoir to cope with future needs? That is if it rains to fill it.

Does anyone think of these problems, or do the pound signs make the developers blind to what they will unleash? If profit is put before survival, we all lose.

BARRY E WOODHAM, Scotby Avenue, Old Town, Swindon

We’re all travellers

SO WE can all park free where we want in Swindon now as long as we’re ‘travellers’, can we?

We can pull up on any convenient piece of grass and use it as a toilet and dumping ground knowing the council will clear up after us but won’t prosecute us for not paying the parking fees. Excellent.

Well, I as well as thousands of other of Swindonians are travellers. We travel to work. We travel home from work. We travel to the shops. We travel to friends’ houses. We travel to see our families. The difference is we pay our tax. We don’t leave filth. We abide by the law.

And guess what? We pay for you other “travellers” to have your disgusting mess cleared up.

Shame on the council and pathetic police who can find a million excuses not to prosecute the travellers but only need one excuse to prosecute the rest of us.


You must be joking

WHEN I read the Adver’s article about the amount of money this council has collected from fines on the motorists going down the bus lane at the Outlet Village SA Wednesday May 10, I thought it was a joke.

And then at the end of the piece for the council to say any money received through the bus gate fines was spent on highways and highways improvements and maintenance, now THAT is a joke.

The roads in Rodbourne and most parts of Swindon are a total disgrace with potholes everywhere.

This council waste thousands on things that don’t work instead of spending money on things that need doing.

MRS TOWNSEND, Redcliffe Street, Rodbourne

Hares under threat

A CONSERVATIVE repeal of the 2004 Hunting Act would accelerate the demise of our iconic brown hares, already listed in 2011 for potential extinction by 2050.

One third of the hunts (with dogs) in England and Wales target these declining hares, not foxes.

The Act also outlaws hare coursing but a repeal would further encourage this intrusive and destructive activity, already so distressing to farmers and problematic to police forces countrywide.

The police would, as a result of repeal, have reduced legal powers against the coursing perpetrators.

JOHN RIMINGTON, BSc ,Technical Liaison Officer, Hare Preservation Trust