You’ve probably heard by now about how a Special Air Service (SAS) sniper has been sentenced by a British judge to 15 months in military prison for possession of a handgun. If you haven’t, you can get the full story here. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice – one that I wanted to bring to the attention of the SOFREP community and to my friends at the Navy SEALs Fund. I’ve been in touch with Sgt. Nightingale’s attorney, Simon McKay, who has filled me in on his client’s current situation:
- The Lord Chief Justice is hearing an appeal against the sentence next Thursday (his appeal against conviction will follow)
- His pay was stopped upon his detention so his family has no income except that which comes in from donations
- Signatures on this petition will be presented to the court on Sgt. Nightingale’s behalf
In a recently published letter to his wife, Nightingale wrote: “I was prepared for anything when I went on operations,” he writes. “I knew that there was always the chance that I might say goodbye and not return. It comes with the job and I accepted that. But of all of the things I thought might happen, I never expected to be locked away by the country I’ve dedicated my life to serving.”
Simon McKay supplied me with a copy of his published writing on this case, an excerpt from which follows:
Danny Nightingale pleaded guilty because he believed that if he didn’t he would face the risk of a five year jail term. The reasons for this belief will be considered by the courts in due course. His wife and father were devastated, in part because the prospect was terrifying as it would be to all law- abiding citizens but also I think because they knew the calibre of man they loved wouldn’t allow them to endure it. He has spent almost half his life placing himself in grave danger for the “security and happiness of the people”; there was no prospect he would make his family suffer based on an outcome he could not control. That day different actors talked to Sergeant Nightingale about integrity; of the decisions made; the nature of the evidence; of their own selves even but none had the right to do so. The only person who earned that was Danny – he earned it when he helped those injured in the Omagh Bombing, when he gained admission to the most elite Regiment in the world, when he served with unhesitating courage in Iraq and Afghanistan and when he brought the dead bodies of his brothers in arms back from war and left a pistol which someone else packed in his kit.
His appeal against sentence is on Thursday next week. Public interest again is likely to pervade the submissions made on his behalf. Almost certainly reference will be made to the petition in support of which this article has been written. Every name on the petition counts because it echoes the last and with each the voice of protest from the public gets louder until its unity suppresses the stubborn and monotonous tone of injustice. It is as DH Lawrence wrote “the only justice is to follow the sincere intuition of the soul, angry or gentle. Anger is just, and pity is just, but judgment is never just”.
Consideration of the public interest will also need to be confronted when a decision is taken whether, if Sergeant Nightingale’s conviction is quashed, a re-trial should be sought. The position then is as it was put in The Times: “if the proper channels cannot put this right, then the proper channels have a problem”.
Right now the consensus is that justice has miscarried. Our courts, again like the people, are not faultless but they have a great tradition of introspection and recognising when they have erred. I hope the balance is restored next week. Your support will I am sure be recognised as a reflection of the majority of the people that the Court serves.
If you’re as outraged by this as I am, please do two things:
1. Sign the petition.
2. Donate whatever you can afford to help keep Danny’s family afloat.
The above link goes to the Navy SEALs Fund, which is a registered 501(c)3 charity. As such, your donations to support Danny Nightingale will be tax-deductible. Alternatively, you can make a donation to a British PayPal account that was set up for the same reason, however your donations won’t be tax deductible. The PayPal email address for donations is [email protected]
Thank you on behalf of Sgt. Nightingale and his family for your generous support. Please spread the word.