Re­spected UK army reg­i­ment em­broiled in un­der-age sex claims

Pretoria News - - PROTEST -

ONE of Bri­tain’s most re­spected Army reg­i­ments, which boasts Prince Wil­liam as its Colonel-in-Chief, is fac­ing em­bar­rass­ment af­ter a high-pro­file sup­porter was ac­cused of child sex­ual abuse.

Ben Baker, a wealthy Amer­i­can, forged such close links with the Ir­ish Guards that an an­nual tro­phy awarded to cadets was named in his hon­our. The Ir­ish Guards cadet branch is known as the “Mini Micks” and re­cruits chil­dren aged as young as 12.

Baker of­ten wore a dis­tinc­tive Stet­son bear­ing an Ir­ish Guards badge and is also thought to have spon­sored din­ners, gifted items of sil­ver­ware to the Sergeant’s Mess, and made dona­tions to reg­i­men­tal as­so­ci­a­tions.

He also ac­quired a pedi­gree wolfhound from a breeder in County Tip­per­ary that be­came the reg­i­ment’s mas­cot in 2006, and has at­tended a string of func­tions, in­clud­ing the pre­sent­ing of sham­rocks by the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge at the an­nual St Pa­trick’s Day pa­rade. But The Mail on Sun­day can re­veal that the 64-year-old re­cently stood trial for the al­leged abuse of un­der­age boys. The jury failed to reach a unan­i­mous ver­dict on the charges against Baker, a US mil­i­tary civil­ian con­trac­tor, lead­ing to the judge declar­ing a mis-trial.

Po­lice in Con­cord, New Hamp­shire, who brought the case, are now await­ing a de­ci­sion from the county at­tor­ney over whether there will be a re­trial.

Fol­low­ing Baker’s trial, the Reg­i­men­tal Sergeant Ma­jor of the Ir­ish Guards, Andy Hughes – an Iraq and Afghanista­n vet­eran – sought to dampen spec­u­la­tion in the reg­i­ment about the Amer­i­can’s al­leged mis­de­meanours, for the sake of the Guards and their Colonel-in-Chief.

In a What­sApp mes­sage to se­nior col­leagues, he wrote: “There are lots of sto­ries do­ing the rounds about Ben Baker. Whether or not he is guilty, we need to min­imise and en­sure the story doesn’t get shared on so­cial me­dia by any­one (from) guards­man up. Bear­ing in mind he (Baker) has a strong af­fil­i­a­tion with the Sergeant’s Mess, not only do we need to pro­tect our­selves and the reg­i­ment but also the Duke of Cam­bridge, as the last thing the Royal Fam­ily need now is an­other story in the pa­pers.”

Kensington Palace said last night the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge had not been for­mally in­tro­duced to Baker at any Ir­ish Guards events.

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