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Naming of killer Marine defended

A SENIOR judge has emphasised the importance of open justice as he announced the reasons behind a decision to allow the public naming of a Royal Marine found guilty of murder.

On December 5, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges at the High Court in London made a ruling which led to the identity of Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman being revealed for the first time as the man who murdered an injured insurgent in Afghanistan.

Giving the court's reasons for reaching its decision to lift an anonymity order in the case of Sergeant Blackman, previously known only as Marine A, Lord Thomas said the balance came "very firmly down on the side of open justice".

Lord Thomas, head of the judiciary and President of the Courts of England and Wales, said: "There is the greatest public interest in knowing who he was.

"It would require an overwhelming case if a person convicted of murder in the course of an armed conflict were to remain anonymous."

He was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 10 years' imprisonment the day after the ruling relating to publication of his name.

"The MoD has taken steps in the past to protect the families of the Marines. There is nothing to suggest that they would not in the future."

A court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire found 39-year-old Blackman guilty of murdering the insurgent who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter in Helmand more than two years ago.

Two other Marines were acquitted. Charges against a further two were previously discontinued.

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