Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Britain investigates troops target practice on Jeremy Corbyn mugshot

Leaked footage shows elite regiment peppering left-winger with target shots

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in his office in the Houses of Parliament. AFP
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in his office in the Houses of Parliament. AFP

An investigation has been launched after footage emerged of British troops using opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn's image as target practice.

A short video clip has emerged on social media platform Snapchat purportedly showing British army soldiers, who are believed to be part of the Parachute Regiment, repeatedly firing at the veteran socialist's face at a shooting range in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The four servicemen can be seen firing handguns at the large image with the caption "happy with that".

The Ministry of Defence said Wednesday it has initiated a full investigation and has condemned the footage as "totally unacceptable".

“We are aware of a video circulating on social media," a spokesperson said.

"This behaviour is totally unacceptable and falls well below the high standards the army expects, and a full investigation has been launched.”

The image, shows the MP speaking at a podium with the party logo in front of him, can be seen pockmarked with more than a dozen shots.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood, a former army officer, said he was investigating the post. “If authentic this is unacceptable,” he said.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, a former army officer, has condemned their actions, tweeting: "This is disgraceful and falls far below the standards expected of @BritishArmy soldiers."

Labour MP Alex Sobel added: "How can serving soldiers think it is acceptable to use Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, for target practice?"

Mr Corbyn, who is due to meet Prime Minister Theresa May today in crunch Brexit talks, has declined to comment on the footage.

But a member of the Labour shadow cabinet said the footage struck a nerve for a party that has seen one of its representative killed in an act of political violence.

"I hope the investigation will be conducted thoroughly and the conclusions made public,” said Angela Rayner, the education spokeswoman. "Political tensions are heightened at the moment and this type of behaviour is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable, we expect much better from our Army and soldiers."

It comes after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 at the hands of a far-right extremist and the news of a neo-Nazi plot to kill another female Labour MP this week.

In 2017, London's Finsbury Park terrorist claimed he had wanted to originally kill Mr Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn has been unpopular with sections of the military due to his previous policies on Northern Ireland and his stance on the Trident nuclear programme and opposition to the Iraq War.

The regiment involved has a controversial as well as illustrious past. Just last week, a large flag bearing its winged motif was erected in Northern Ireland saying ‘Carrickfergus stands with Soldier F – stop persecuting our veterans". The banner caused uproar since it referred to the announcement that a former British soldier will face prosecution for the murder of two people on Bloody Sunday in 1972 during an operation by the Parachute Regiment.

Yesterday, the security minister Ben Wallace revealed that 43 per cent of the individuals being investigated by the government's anti-radicalisation programme Prevent were far-right extremists.

Latest figures reveal the number of referrals for the programme's activities increased by more than a third last year.

Updated: April 3, 2019 08:21 PM