Bill English continues to back Defence Force over SAS claims, refuses to launch inquiry

Prime Minister Bill English has once again ruled out holding an inquiry into claims of civilian deaths in a SAS backed raid on a village in Afghanistan in 2010.

Bill English says he has 'every reason to believe the Defence Force' as the claims made in the Hit & Run book linger. Source: Breakfast

The raid is at the centre of claims made by a new book by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, who say villagers were killed in the raid which was designed to find those believed responsible for an attack which killed a New Zealand soldier.

In an Official Information Act release yesterday, the New Zealand Defence Force said there may have been a civilian casualty in the raid.

Professor Al Gillespie reacts to the NZDF's statement following claims made in the Hit & Run book. Source: Breakfast

However, later yesterday, Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Tim Keating said the claims in the book were wrong as troops never operated in the two villages identified.

He also accused Mr Hager and Mr Stephenson of confusing stories.

Today on TVNZ1's Breakfast, Mr English backed Lieutenant General Keating's version of events and said there was no reason to look into "allegations of war crimes" because "as the CDF has pointed out, the villages that the book talks about are not the villages where New Zealand troops were operating".

"In a contest of opinions about that, I have every good reason to believe the defence forces who were actually there," he said.

Mr English said there would be further discussions about the issue, but the basis for an inquiry was "undermined" by Lieutenant General Keating's version of events.

Professor Al Gillespie reacts to the NZDF's statement following claims made in the Hit & Run book. Source: Breakfast

An official information act request has revealed a villager may have died in the 2010 raid, following revelations in a new book. Source: Q+A

Bill English has also again rebutted information from former Defence Minister Wayne Mapp, saying it is nothing new. Source: 1 NEWS

Under persistent questioning, Mr English insisted that at this stage there was no reason to hold an inquiry. 

Mr Hager responded lat night by saying the NZDF's response was "deeply pathetic".

"I can't believe this is what they’ve come back with. There is no credibility in what they're saying whatsoever. Is this really the best they can come back with?"