SOMERSET MP James Heappey has apologised after it appears he mistakenly claimed a British soldier had taken their own life

Former British Army officer and current Armed Forces Minister Mr Heappey, MP for Wells, was forced to backtrack following an interview on Sky News this morning (Monday, September 6).

He told Kay Burley that he felt "sick to the bottom of my stomach" after learning a soldier who served in Afghanistan had taken their own life.

He subsequently admitted the information may be "inaccurate".

And the Ministry of Defence is investigating to establish whether a suicide note is actually real.

The MoD has said it is looking into the report of the death, but understands it to be untrue.

Mr Heappey was interviewed on Sky News, when he talked about the mental health of UK veterans.

He said British servicemen and women had been hugely affected by the withdrawal of UK and US troops and the subsequent Taliban takeover.

He told Ms Burley: "It's my understanding that in the last few days there have been people who have taken their life.

"Certainly a person who has taken their life who did so because of their feelings as a consequence of withdrawal.

"And that makes me sick to the bottom of my stomach and fearful for many of my friends who I know are still struggling with what they saw on those tours of Afghanistan.

"And that's why the government, the nation, needs to put our arm around our veterans and tell them how proud we are of what they did."

Mr Heappey was shortly afterwards quizzed about his claims on BBC Breakfast.

He corrected his earlier claim and said: "Since I mentioned that to your colleague Kay Burley on Sky only 20 minutes ago, we've had a number of reports that actually the thing I was referring to was inaccurate.

"We're looking very, very carefully at whether or not it is true that someone has taken their life in the last few days, but actually that shouldn't take away that far too many service people have taken their own lives in the last 10 years as a consequence of their service in Afghanistan."

Mr Heappey has since posted on Twitter: "I'm sorry to have said something that might not be true.

"The note referred very accurately to my last tour of Afghanistan with 2 RIFLES in 2009 & I've spent weekend fearing colleague had taken their life.

"However, MoD aren't certain that note is real so wanted to clarify."

In a further Tweet, he apologised for "saying something that might not be accurate".

He added: "Army & MoD working quickly to establish whether note is real or not."