The army's court martial system was last night threatened with the most dramatic overhaul in its 400-year history after the government's senior lawyer raised serious concerns about the military's ability to investigate allegations against British soldiers.

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, questioned whether courts martial are equipped to handle cases such as last week's involving abuse charges against three members of the Royal Fusiliers. And he expressed doubts about whether the Army Prosecution Authority (APA) should investigate serious allegations against soldiers serving overseas.

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