Socialist Worker

Army backs off from attempt to gag anti-war soldier

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2168

Joe Glenton, a British soldier who has refused to fight in Afghanistan, last week won a major victory in his battle with the British army when it dropped key charges against him.

In addition to the original charge of desertion and intent to avoid active duty, the army wanted to charge Joe with bringing the army into disrepute.

It was this charge—centred on Joe speaking to Socialist Worker and Sky News about why he is refusing to return to Afghanistan—that was dropped on Friday of last week.

Joe and his lawyer John Tipple presented themselves for the hearing, only to be told the charge had been dropped.

Joe will now continue to speak out and expose the horrendous reality of the war in Afghanistan.

He will be speaking at the rally at the Stop the War demonstration in London on 24 October calling for all the troops to be brought home from Afghanistan.

He will now face his trial for desertion on 2 November.

Tipple told Socialist Worker, “The army know we’re going to fight them at the trial—we’ve got Tony Benn as an expert witness, as well a specialist in international law to prove the war is illegal.

“The army is frightened about the exposure the case is receiving, which is why they dropped the other charge.”

The campaign to support Joe, and soldiers like him, must now intensify.

The army and the government know how unpopular the war is and have made subtle changes to try and stop the situation from worsening for them.

One example is that the notice soldiers have to give of leaving the army has been reduced from a year to four months to prevent the number of Awol cases appearing to skyrocket.

The recession has meant a small upturn in young people joining the army. John says, “These people are just treated as cannon fodder and a way to swell the ranks when the angry and disillusioned leave.

“Army top brass talks about the problems of equipment when they should be talking about the limbs and lives that have been lost.”

Email messages of support to Joe at

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 8 Sep 2009, 19:38 BST
Issue No. 2168
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.