Ex-SAS men say Crewe soldier's imprisonment is a 'travesty of justice'

Danny Nightingale: In jail for possessing a pistol Photo:

Four high-profile former members of the SAS have joined the battle to free a special forces sniper from Cheshire jailed for possessing a firearm, claiming he is victim of a "travesty of justice" and a "shameful betrayal".

In an open letter to David Cameron, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Williams, Colonel Tim Collins, Andy McNab and Chris Ryan demanded immediate action, saying: "Compare this man's case to that of Abu Qatada and see if it is fair."

Sergeant Danny Nightingale, from Crewe, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to 18 months in military detention by a court martial last week.

He was charged with illegally possessing a 9mm Glock pistol which had been packed up and returned to him by colleagues after he had to leave Iraq in a hurry to help organise the funeral of two friends killed in action.

Sgt Nightingale's wife Sally told Granada Reports the pistol was a 'war gift' and that he had forgotten he even owned it.

The Ministry of Defence has said it could not comment on individual cases but said the court martial process carried a right to appeal.