THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition to free an SAS soldier from Crewe who has been jailed for 18 months for possessing an illegal firearm.

SAS sergeant Danny Nightingale pleaded guilty at military court martial to possessing a 9mm Glock pistol. The soldier’s supporters say the weapon was given to him in Baghdad in 2007, as a gift by Iraqi soldiers he had helped to train.

They argue that when Mr Nightingale returned to Britain for the funeral of two comrades, the gun was placed in a bag packed by a colleague.

Latterly, the married father of two collapsed during a marathon in South America in 2009, contracting a tropical illness that supporters say affected his memory, causing him to forget about the weapon’s existence.

Friends and family of the soldier argue that his sentence was too harsh. MPs and ex SAS soldiers including author Andy McNab are supporting their appeals.

Politicians met in the Commons on Tuesday to debate the issue.

MP for Canterbury, Julian Brazier, said Sgt Nightingale had ‘compelling medical evidence to show that his memory was severely impaired’ by his collapse.

He added: “This is a man who has served bravely for 17 years - the bulk of that time in the Special Forces - risking his life for his country again and again.

“As a medic he invented a new dressing, known as the Nightingale dressing, that is used in the British and American special forces and extensively in the NHS. He has never claimed a penny for it.”

As part of his submission, Mr Brazier said Special Forces soldiers should not be considered ‘outside the law’, but that ‘particular failings in this very hard case have led to a particular injustice’.

Sgt Nightingale’s wife, Sally, who lives in Crewe with the couple’s two young daughters, is continuing to pressure MPs and the Government to review the sentence.

To sign a petition in support of Sgt Nightingale, visit