AFGHANISTAN

Ex-British Army captain Mike Martin says ministry tried to block book

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 April, 2014, 8:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 5:36pm
 

A former British army captain has accused the nation's defence ministry of attempting to block publication of a book criticising the campaign in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Dr Mike Martin said on Wednesday that he was commissioned by the ministry to research the conflict in Helmand, where British forces sustained the vast majority of their losses during the 13-year conflict.

But when he turned the doctorate study into a book, the ministry blocked its publication, saying its contents contravened the Official Secrets Act, he claimed.

Martin, 31, who served 10 years in the army and the part-time territorial army, has now resigned his commission and plans to go ahead with releasing the book this month.

The volume, An Intimate War - An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict 1978-2012, argues that commanders failed to understand the "tribal" nature of the conflict.

Martin said he told officials of his plans to convert it into a book, with proceeds going to veterans' groups.

He claimed he was told that the inclusion of material from WikiLeaks and "other classified material" would breach the Official Secrets Act.

But the ministry said on Wednesday that claims of a "last-minute attempt" to block the book on secrecy grounds were "simply not the case".

It said it had funded Martin's doctorate studies on the conflict because it was interested in a "critical analysis of its role and in learning lessons for the future", but had not commissioned him to write a book. In a blog posting, the ministry said that it was now satisfied the documents referred to in the book were in the public domain and so would not block its publication.

Martin was no longer bound by rules covering serving officers publishing books as he had resigned, officials said.

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