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Iraq crisis: Colonel cleared of ill-treating PoWs.

A senior British Army officer was yesterday cleared of mistreating prisoners of war in Iraq.

No criminal proceedings will be brought against Colonel Tim Collins, the former commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, the Ministry of Defence said.

Col Collins, who has always strenuously denied the claims, shot to fame on the eve of fighting in Iraq when he gave a rousing speech to his Royal Irish Regiment troops.

The speech earned him lavish praise from the Prince of Wales and was admired by US President George Bush, who is said to have ordered a copy for the wall of his White House office.

Confirming that he had been cleared, a spokeswoman said: 'I can confirm that the investigation into allegations against Colonel Collins has now concluded and that no criminal proceedings will be taken against him.'

A statement issued by Col Collins' solicitor, Lewis Cherry said the officer would put the inquiry 'behind him' and get on with his life as a professional soldier.

Mr Cherry said: 'This must be the first time in history a battlefield commander has faced such immediate public scrutiny.'

The investigation, ordered by the Ministry of Defence, was carried out by the special investigations branch of the Royal Military Police.

It centred on claims made by a US military officer, Major Re Biastre of 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, who alleged abuse of captured Iraqis.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 2, 2003
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