Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday, 25 January 2008

Why no photos of convicted British war criminal Donald Payne?

Whilst scanning my newsfeeds this morning I came across an article about an imminent report which is expected to conclude that there are 'flaws' in army training for the handling of detainees. The report was necessitated after there were allegations of mistreatment of civilian detainees in Iraq, including the death in custody of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, having suffered 93 injuries. Although the report is expected to say that there will be no further criminal proceedings, the family of the victim hope that British military files, to which they gained access in October last year, may provide further evidence to trigger a full public enquiry.

However, as I delved into this story, I was reminded of the name of the British soldier who achieved the 'distinction' (perhaps 'opprobrium' would be a better word) of becoming the first convicted British war criminal. Cpl Donald Payne of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment was convicted after 'pleading guilty to inhumanely treating civilian detainees'. He was gaoled for 1 year and dismissed from the army. Basically for murder!

However, try as I might, I have been unable to discover any photograph of former corporal Donald Payne in any of the online articles on the subject - and a search in Google 'images' produces no relevant result either. His Wikipedia article has no photo and this Trial Watch potted biography does not have one either. I conclude that somehow or other this particular individual, a convicted war criminal (or those acting on his behalf), has been able to prevent his image appearing anywhere. Why?

Why?


Wouldn't it be interesting to know if one found oneself sitting in a train or a 'plane next to this person? It's not only Germans and Japanese who are war criminals - and there was never a shortage of images of them, or indeed of the Yugoslav Milosevic. Why the discretion, just because he is British?

One suspects that if the army or the military hierarchy had been able to cover this up, they would much have preferred this and possibly they would have dealt with Cpl Donald Payne in their own perhaps much harsher way. He might in bygone days have been left in a room with a loaded revolver to take the 'honourable' way out. However, in the modern world he will have served his sentence and quite possibly taken a new identity (or been given one by the military or the government) - all for the sake of preserving the notion that we are somehow 'better' than our enemies; except for the fact that this blemish could not be entirely hidden from scrutiny. Of course I am not encouraging, nor would I condone, any kind of vigilante action against him, just pointing out what appear to be double standards. This video report, at the time of Cpl Payne's conviction, makes a strong case for there being others, higher up the army (or civilian?) chain of command, who were ultimately responsible for the crime for which Cpl Payne was convicted. Possibly the agreement to censor images of Payne from appearing was a quid pro quo for the authorities attempting to halt any further action which might lead to whole areas of military policy being questioned and those held accountable for 'bending rules' coming under the spotlight. The whole thing stinks. I will be interested to read the report when it is issued - it sounds very much as if it will be designed to close down the possiblity of further investigation of military procedures and our compliance with international law - a 'white-wash' in other words.

If anyone reading this finds an image of the correct Donald Payne please let me know.

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