When a young Afghanistan war hero appeared before a city council, it seemed the right thing to give him a standing ovation.
Hero: Matt Croucher who won the George Cross was the subject of an anti-war protest by Muslim councillors at Birmingham City Council:
But following the meeting at Birmingham City Council on Tuesday night, fellow councillors said they had grossly disrespected the soldier.
‘I was happy to give this hero a standing ovation and I have invited him to be guest of honour when we open new houses for ex-military personnel later this year.’
Peter Douglas Osborn, another Conservative councillor, added: ‘As far as I am concerned it is no longer the Respect party, but the disrespect party.’
L/Cpl Croucher, from Solihull in the West Midlands, now runs a security firm after leaving the Royal Marines 40 Commando division.
He said: ‘Obviously not everyone is behind the work we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and they have their point of view.
‘I have every sympathy for our soldiers on a human level, they are only doing their jobs.
‘What we did was out of principle.’ The George Cross is awarded for ‘outstanding bravery not involving direct contact with the enemy’.
L/Cpl Croucher became the most highly decorated serving marine when he was given the medal for showing bravery in an ambush in Helmand province in 2008.
During a night raid on a Taliban compound, he stepped on a tripwire, triggering a grenade.
Instead of fleeing he smothered the explosion, twisting on to his back to let his rucksack take the full force, and prevented all four members of his patrol being killed.
But within minutes he was on his feet again and demanding to be allowed to continue the patrol. He even helped set an ambush and shot dead an armed insurgent during the subsequent firefight.