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Councillors refuse to stand for war hero

Birmingham | News | Published:

Two Birmingham councillors have been branded disrespectful after refusing to join a standing ovation for a Midland George Cross hero.

Two Birmingham councillors have been branded disrespectful after refusing to join a standing ovation for a Midland George Cross hero.

More than 100 Birmingham City Council members honoured Afghanistan veteran Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher with the ovation at their monthly meeting.

But Respect Party councillors Salma Yaqoob and Mohammed Ishtiaq remained seated, sparking anger from other councillors. Weoley Conservative Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn said: "They should be members of the disrespect party, not the Respect Party.

"It was very disrespectful. It annoyed other councillors. These are the lads and lasses that have done so much to protect us. They have offered to lay down their lives for us."

L/Cpl Croucher, of 40 Commando, was invited to Tuesday's meeting as a guest of honour and to highlight his work with the Royal British Legion.

The 27-year-old, from Solihull, was awarded the George Cross — one of the highest decorations for outstanding bravery — after throwing himself on an exploding grenade to save lives of his patrol in Helmand Province in 2008.

His rucksack bore the brunt of the blast and was destroyed and his body armour was pitted with shrapnel. But the soldier escaped with just a nosebleed.

Coun Yaqoob, Respect Party leader, today defended her actions. She said: "It's really about the hypocrisy of the politicians who are keeping them there even though there's no strategic reason. They are making themselves look patriotic.

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"It was about them applauding themselves while these soldiers pay the ultimate sacrifice.

"The lives of those people will never be the same again. I have been completely consistent in my support of individual soldiers and their families.

"If the politicians really care about the troops they would bring them home."

Councillor Ishtiaq was unavailable for comment but has defended his actions, saying it was a matter of "principle".

L/Cpl Croucher said it was nice to be shown respect for the job by the overwhelming majority of councillors.

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