A soldier who featured in a video with ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson is allegedly in the process of being discharged from the army.
Robinson, 35, posted pictures and video to his Facebook page on Monday where young male soldiers wearing camouflage uniforms were heard chanting his name and cheering.
It was a chance meeting, the trainee soldiers had bumped into Robinson at Watford Gap motorway services, but it may have spelled disaster for at least one of the men involved and brought embarrassment to the British Army.
This is why
Regardless of his extreme views, by posing with Robinson, the trainees could have breached military rules anyway.
Much like civil servants, members of the Royal Family and broadcast journalists, serving soldiers and other military personnel must remain apolitical.
Posing with Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn and chanting their names may have incurred just as strict a punishment.
A source told Sky News that one soldier has been discharged from the army as a result of the Robinson pictures.
But members of the military have been warned on previous occaisions against affiliations to the EDL.
In 2013, after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich heightened tensions around Islamist extremism, concerns were raised over possible links between the EDL, other far right groups and the military.
Photos emerged showing what appeared to be serving soldiers brandishing firearms against a backdrop of EDL propaganda.
As a result General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, wrote to all ranks to urge service personnel ‘not to get drawn into the politics of this incident’.
Then in 2017, two serving British soldiers were charged with being members of the banned organisation National Front.
It raised questions about how the men managed to pass security vetting and keep their views hidden.
After riots and marches surrounding the death of Lee Rigby, then defence minister Mark Francois said: ‘All Service personnel are expected to abide by the values and standards of the British Armed Forces in all they do.
‘All those who are found to fall short of these high standards or have committed an offence under the Armed Forces Act are dealt with administratively or through the disciplinary process.
‘Ultimately, such action may result in dismissal.’
The video of Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – and the trainee soldiers will once again worry military leaders.
Army officials have been given clear instructions to ensure all service personnel are refrained from engaging in any political behaviour.
There has been wide condemnation of Robinson’s images, including from the Muslim Council of Britain, which accused him of ‘remaining silent on the sacrifices Muslims and others made in the two world wars’.
Soon after the pictures emerged the Army said it was investigating, issuing a statement saying: ‘Far right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the Armed Forces.
‘The Armed Forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve.’
Imam Asim Hafiz, Islamic religious advisor to the Armed Forces, said that ‘any form of racism, discrimination or extremism is taken extremely seriously and will be dealt with accordingly’.
‘The Armed Forces remain absolutely committed to welcoming individuals from across all faiths and cultures into its ranks.’
The Ministry of Defence said it would not comment on individual cases but said ‘anyone who is in breach of the Army’s values and standards will face administrative action.’