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MoD ‘aware of investigation’ after SAS soldiers reportedly arrested over class A drugs | UK News

The Ministry of Defence says it’s “aware of an ongoing investigation” following reports two SAS soldiers were arrested over alleged involvement in a drugs ring.

The wife of one of the men was also detained during a raid on a farm by military and civilian police on 30 November, according to the Mail.

It said “quantities of a suspicious substance were found and removed for analysis” and that the trio were questioned and later bailed on suspicion of class A drug offences.

The raid reportedly took place in the Herefordshire countryside.

A MoD spokesperson told Sky News: “We are aware of an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The SAS – regarded by many as the world’s best elite unit – is based at the Stirling Lines garrison in the village of Credenhill.

However, it’s currently facing damaging allegations that its troops carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan.

A public inquiry is taking place, but is being held partly in secret.

The claims surfaced in a BBC and Times investigation that claimed innocent civilians were killed during night raids to capture Taliban fighters.

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Evidence submitted to the inquiry said as many as 80 people were killed in suspicious circumstances between 2010 and 2013.

The documents outlined the high kill rate of the squadrons, with one soldier shooting 35 people dead in a single six-month tour.

Soldiers and emergency workers among more than 400,000 people to be awarded Coronation medal | UK News

Soldiers and emergency workers are among more than 400,000 people who will be given a medal for their efforts to support the King’s coronation.

Everyone actively contributing to and supporting the event on Saturday will be awarded it, including police officers, choristers, military personnel and ambulance workers.

The medals are a gift from the nation to commemorate the coronation for the people who will make the service on Saturday happen, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said.

The medals, made of nickel silver, feature a portrait of the King and the Queen Consort on one side and the royal cypher, a laurel wreath and the date of the coronation on the other.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the medal will “act as a reminder of the important part each person has played in this moment of history”.

It will also be given to current members of the police, fire, emergency services, prison services and armed forces who have completed five full years of service.

The first coronation medal was awarded in 1603, under the reign of King James I.

It comes as preparations continue ahead of Saturday’s ceremony, with Union Jack bunting and crown decorations appearing across the capital.

Coronation medal. Pic: DCMS/PA

Irish president to attend coronation

Some 100 heads of state, representatives from 200 countries and hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to descend on London for the UK’s first coronation since Elizabeth II was crowned 70 years ago.

Some royal fans are already camped out near Buckingham Palace to secure the best viewing spot.

On Friday, the King, along with other members of the Royal Family, will host a reception for overseas guests ahead of the coronation.

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‘Mind the gap’: King’s coronation announcement

The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins will also meet the King on Friday night ahead of becoming the first Irish head of state to attend a coronation.

It will be the ninth occasion the two heads of state have met and continues a long-standing friendship between the two.

Read more:
How other countries do their coronations
Guide to the coronation: Timings, procession route and how to watch

The Irish premier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, is expected to attend the coronation and political leaders from Northern Ireland have also been invited.

Among those who will be there is Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill in another demonstration of the markedly improved relations between the republican movement and the Royal Family since the peace process.

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‘Fingers crossed’ for coronation

’50/50′ chance flypast could be cancelled

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshall Sir Mike Wigston, has warned there’s a 50/50 chance tomorrow’s flypast to mark the King’s coronation will have to be cancelled.

More than 60 aircraft are due to be involved, but adverse weather conditions could mean that the flypast may need to be called off at the last minute.

Sir Mike said: “The weather isn’t looking brilliant, but there’s nothing we can do about it.

“It’s 50/50 at the moment, but we have lots of options, the decision will be made, at this stage we’re hoping for the best.

“We’ll make a weather call one or two hours before the actual moment, but if there’s rain and low cloud then it will be almost impossible to get it through.”

UK to train Ukrainian judges to carry out war crimes trials for Russian soldiers | World News

A group of 90 Ukrainian judges will undergo training, provided by the UK, to carry out war crimes trials for Russian soldiers.

The first group of judges attended sessions at a secret location in the region last week, and more will follow in the coming months, as part of a £2.5m investment.

In her first broadcast interview as Attorney General, Victoria Prentis told Sky News it would ensure perpetrators of atrocities can – at an unprecedented scale – be prosecuted while the conflict goes on.

The vast majority of war crimes trials are expected to be carried out in the country by Ukrainian judges.

So far, 14 Russian soldiers have been convicted, with the first trial carried out in May.

But a vast caseload of more than 43,000 reported crimes have already been registered.

“They are prosecuting war crimes in real time”, Ms Prentis said. “This is a live and very brutal conflict.

Ukraine is managing with all the difficulties that we know are going on in the country at the moment, with things like power and organising courts, to try war crimes.

“This is very important, obviously because justice is important, but also because I hope that those Russian soldiers and officers who are watching the Ukrainian prosecutions at the moment will realise that they must act in accordance with international law.

“These 90 judges will go back after some really intensive training, able better to run those courts.”

UK Attorney General Victoria Prentis
UK Attorney General Victoria Prentis

Russia’s ‘Nuremberg’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenkyy and his wife Olena, who visited the UK this month, have been advocating for the establishment of a special tribunal for Ukraine, which they have compared to the Nuremberg trials, for the Russian leadership.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has already opened an investigation into the Ukraine war – but the Zelenskyys say a special tribunal alongside it could prosecute a wider range of crimes.

This has not been explicitly backed by the UK government, but Ms Prentis said all options are being considered, in discussions with the Ukrainian authorities.

Read more:
Divided loyalties and messy compromises for Ukrainian refugees

“I’m sure that the vast majority of these war crimes will be tried by Ukrainian judges in Ukraine, where the witnesses and the evidence are,” she said.

“But I’m also sure the international community will want to have a moment where justice is done, and seen to be done. We don’t yet know exactly what form that will take. All options are on the table.”

In her long career as a government lawyer before entering politics, Ms Prentis said: “I don’t think we ever anticipated we would have war crimes in Europe again and that we would have to start talking about Nuremberg-style trials.”

The judges’ training is run by Sir Howard Morrison, a British judge who worked at the International Criminal Court and on the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Sir Howard Morrison, British judge helping to train Ukrainian judges for war crimes
Sir Howard Morrison says senior Russians being tried ‘cannot be ruled out’

He spoke to Sky News on his return from the region after the first three-day session.

Sky News teams have witnessed the work of mobile justice teams in the country, such as in Makariv, outside Kyiv, where officials say 130 bodies were found in April.

Sir Howard said: “War crimes bring an added dimension, particularly when you have mass graves.

“I’ve spent 25 years staring either literally or metaphorically into mass graves, and believe me it’s a very different exercise than a single body or a single victim.

“They [judges] are very much aware of the necessity to run these trials in accordance with internationally recognised standards.”

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Sir Howard was the judge at the trial of former Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic and said it was the hope senior Russian leaders could eventually be put on trial – but it would take time and commitment.

He said: “I was told when I was at the ICT [tribunal for the former Yugoslavia], that we would never try Milosevic, Karadzic or Mladic, and we tried all three.

“So you don’t know how the political winds will change direction in the future. It may be a long, slow process, but you cannot entirely rule out the Russians, senior Russians, in politics or in the military could one day come before an international tribunal.”

Ukraine war: UK programme to train ‘citizen soldiers’ is expanding | UK News

The UK is significantly expanding a training programme in Britain to turn potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainian recruits into frontline soldiers to fight Russia, Sky News has learnt.

The combat course is being extended in length to five weeks from three weeks, keeping more of the training in the UK, away from the threat of Russian missile strikes – a hazard for anyone learning how to become a soldier at sites inside Ukraine, it is understood.

Some 4,700 personnel have already been through the training at military bases in the north, southwest and southeast of England since it began in June, with commanders intending to continue the support for as long as Ukraine needs new troops to fight Russia’s invasion.

The UK is significantly expanding a training programme in Britain to turn potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainian recruits into frontline soldiers to fight Russia
Pic: MoD

Military instructors from eight other countries, including New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands, have joined with their British counterparts to provide the expanded training mission.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said it demonstrated “our shared resolve to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visits UK troops training Ukraine citizens to be soldiers. The UK is significantly expanding a training programme to turn potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainian recruits into frontline soldiers to fight Russia. Pic: Ministry of Defence
The defence secretary said meeting the Ukrainians learning to fight was ‘humbling’. Pic: MoD

In quotes released to Sky News by the Ministry of Defence, confirming the expanded programme, Mr Wallace said the training course had “developed rapidly, and we are now extending it to five weeks to provide the best possible preparation for Ukrainian soldiers who will soon be in active combat operations”.

He added: “Meeting those citizen soldiers and witnessing first-hand their courage and determination is a humbling experience.

More on Ministry Of Defence

“We must do everything we can to help them defend their homes against this illegal and unprovoked Russian invasion, and will continue to do so for as long as it takes. We stand with Ukraine.”

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British troops take part in cold weather training with Swedish and Finnish armed forces

The UK is significantly expanding a training programme in Britain to turn potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainian recruits into frontline soldiers to fight Russia. Pic: Ministry of Defence
Pic: MoD

Mr Wallace has paid four visits to check up on the training, including most recently on Friday.

Advanced training

A defence source said this was an indication that while “many politicians have been distracted by a summer leadership competition”, the defence secretary “only cares about keeping Ukrainians in their fight for national survival”.

If, as expected, Liz Truss becomes prime minister, Mr Wallace is tipped to retain his job as defence secretary.

Other countries taking part in the training programme to help Ukraine comprise Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Lithuania.

The main course on offer is based on the UK’s basic infantry training. It includes weapons-handling, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft and patrol tactics.

The extra two weeks will allow for more advanced training, such as trench and urban warfare, vehicle-mounted operations, and battlefield exercises in simulated combat environments.

The training is being conducted by elements from the British Army’s 11 Security Force Assistance Brigade and the RAF Regiment, alongside international instructors.