Furious relatives of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan hit out at the 'disgusting' behaviour of peers in the House of Lords - after they were filmed walking out while the names of six fallen servicemen were read out.
The former head of the Army blasted those who poured out of the Upper Chamber while the names who had died since the beginning of March were remembered.
Among those who paid the ultimate sacrifice included the five personnel who were killed in last month's tragic helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan.
Outraged, General Lord Dannatt rose to his feet and said on a military base no one moves while the Last Post is being played, and the same should apply in Parliament.
He spoke out after Government minister Baroness Northover made a statement on Afghanistan.
This began, as is customary, with a tribute to those who had died in Afghanistan since the last statement on the country in February.
It included the five troops killed when their helicopter plunged to the ground over a Taliban stronghold near the border with Pakistan last month and a soldier who died in an accident at Camp Bastion, the UK base, in March.
Lib Dem minister Lady Northover began her statement: 'I should like to pay tribute to the six service personnel who have died serving their country in Afghanistan since the last statement on Afghanistan.
'They include Sapper Adam Moralee, who was killed on 5 March while preparing equipment for redeployment out of Afghanistan as part of our military drawdown.
'On 26 April, five UK service personnel—Captain Thomas Clarke, acting Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, Corporal James Walters, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas—were tragically killed in a helicopter crash south of Kandahar.
'A full investigation is under way into the incident but there is currently no indication of enemy activity being a contributing factor. It was the third biggest single loss of UK life since 2001.
'These deaths are a timely reminder that our troops continue to risk their lives in Afghanistan every single day.'
But as she spoke began, the majority of around 400 peers who had been listening to other Parliamentary business walked out.
Lord Dannatt, who was Chief of the General Staff from 2006 to 2009, said: ‘I am very conscious that what I am about to say may not make me universally popular.
'I was in command of the Army from 2006 to 2009. It will not have escaped the notice of noble Lords that this Chamber was packed to the gunnels at the start of Question Time for discussion of the Thames tideway tunnel and other important matters.
'However, when the Minister began to draw attention to those who had fallen, noble Lords streamed out of this House in a way that was most unfortunate, given that six of our comrades had lost their lives.'
He argued that in future ministers should let all parties know when tributes are being paid to prevent a repeat of the snub.
'On a military base no one moves during the Last Post. In your Lordships’ House, I respectfully suggest that no one moves while a tribute is being paid to the fallen.
'The fallen have done their best to give the Afghans the opportunity of a better life in the future. We have done our best; it is now over to the Afghans to make the best of what we have given them.'
Lady Northover said: ‘I left a gap as people were beginning to leave. I hoped they would hear what I was saying, but I think some of them didn’t realise.
‘I saw people pause and stop and I realise when people were actually hearing what I was saying they were responding. But I think you are absolutely right.’
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