A video by Northern Ireland-born Coronation Street actor Charlie Lawson in support of a Royal Marine found guilty of murdering an injured Taliban fighter has reached nearly three million people.
The video outlines Mr Lawson’s support for Sergeant Alexander Blackman in unequivocal terms and urges Prime Minister Theresa May to take action “because it’s making our great country look stupid”.
Mr Lawson, known throughout the UK as the man who played Jim McDonald in the ITV soap, describes the conviction of Sgt Blackman as “some bloody nonsense”.
Sgt Blackman, 42, previously known as Marine A, is serving a life sentence for murdering a wounded Afghan captive in 2011 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province while serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando.
Mr Lawson expressed support for those who have protested and continue to protest the conviction, and speaks directly to the camera in the video watched by millions.
“I’m doing this just to raise awareness about big Sgt Al Blackman, locked up stupidly for some bloody nonsense – killing a terrorist who was trying to kill him and his men,” he says.
“My family have been to war: uncle Gordon was killed at Monte Cassino; my father fought in Burma; and my uncle was in the Navy. They would understand fully why you lot out there are campaigning so hard for big Al – because it’s a terrible indictment on our country.
“Theresa May has just promised that ex-servicemen are not going to be hassled by sh**ehawk lawyers for stupid, trumped up charges. Well listen here Theresa: ‘Get your finger out of your a**e and do something about Sgt Al Blackman because it’s making our great country look stupid in the eyes of our allies’.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Sgt Blackman faces the ‘real possibility’ of having his conviction quashed.
Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, the country’s most senior military judge, has been criticised by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) for failing to offer a military jury the chance to convict Sgt Blackman of manslaughter, the Daily Telegraph said. His case has been referred to the Courts Martial Appeal Court.
Blackman, from Taunton, Somerset, was found guilty of murder at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, in 2013 and sentenced to life with a minimum term of 10 years.
But he won the right to appeal last month following the presentation of new evidence – and the fact that an alternative verdict of unlawful act of manslaughter was not available during the trial.