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Dogs of War

Let loose the Dogs of War! Life is complicated and sometimes bad people do good things - like killing German Nazis and Italian Fascisti. Or just their German or Italian fellow-travellers. This was brought home to me recently when I discovered that the British Colonial Office had been sitting on details of a murder confession since 1947. SAS hero Roy Farran confessed to his boss in the Palestine Police, Bernard Fergusson, that he beat a teenage Jewish boy to death with a rock after catching him with some anti-British pamphlets. Fergusson made a statement to police about the confession but refused to testify at Farran's court-martial. A written confession found in Farran's room was ruled inadmissible after Farran's lawyer, William Fearnley-Whittingstall,  successfully argued it was part of defence briefing and had lawyer-client privilege. All copies of the confession are believed to have been destroyed. But none of Farran's protectors seems to have realised that a copy of Fergusson's statement had been sent to the Colonial Office. Then a couple of years ago the Colonial Office file was sent to the National Archives and came into the public domain. I suspect the cover-up was more to avoid giving Jewish terrorists a propaganda victory at a time when they were regularly murdering British troops than to protect Farran. He was obviously unstable and very dangerous. Not a nice man. The same goes for his SAS comrade Paddy Mayne. He was also very good at killing Germans. But away from the frontline his drunken antics included some very nasty violence. Nothing was ever proven but he was the prime suspect in a cowardly and vicious attack in the dark on a fellow officer in No. 11 (Scottish) Commando. Both Farran and Mayne had serious drinking problems. But to paraphrase George Orwell, we sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us . But perhaps there have to be limits. Like all dogs, the Dogs of War have to be kept on a leash. They are, after all, acting in our name. Farran and Mayne were among many dangerous disturbed men we have made use of and only a fool would believe that they have no spiritual descendants who have stood guard over us within recent memory. Expediency is the moral coward’s excuse. Rotten apples really do eventually corrupt the whole barrel if not thrown out.  


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