The family of an SAS sniper say they are "bitterly disappointed" after a judge ruled he would face a retrial over illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition - despite a last-minute claim that prosecutors acted improperly by consulting on the case.
On Wednesday, Sergeant Danny Nightingale pleaded not guilty to illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.
He was convicted and sentenced to military detention last year before having his sentence reduced and conviction quashed by Court of Appeal judges.
The ruling means he will face a re-trial in July where he will fight to clear his name.
Speaking outside Bulford Military Court Centre in Wiltshire this afternoon, Sgt Nightingale, thanked his family, including his wife Sally, for their support.
Describing his ordeal in the courts so far, the 38-year-old soldier said: "I wouldn't wish it on anyone's family - it's horrible. That's not just for Sally, myself and the kids, it's on the wider family. It's hard.
"Thanks to everybody, the family who have come from around the world for this, thanks to the public and to the media who have been very supportive throughout."
Paying tribute to his partner: "Without her, without Sal and the family, I wouldn't be here now. They've been amazing, strong, very robust. I think a lot of people would have crumbled."
Sgt Nightingale said he was not able to comment any further on the case, but said his wife was happy to field questions from journalists.
Asked about the impact the case had on the family, Mrs Nightingale said: "Our lives are on hold completely. Every day is consumed by this case, all our conversations with our friends and family are consumed by this case.
"We've all struggled through it."
She said the financial pressures were being supported by a charitable organisation - DannyNightingale.org - which was helping raise money for their fight to clear the soldier's name.
She added: "We want a fair trial and to feel Danny has been given a fair trial.
"We're obviously bitterly disappointed today that we are going ahead with a re-trial now. But in some respects there are still a lot of unanswered questions for us.
"Danny's pleaded not guilty today and we're still looking for the right outcome."
At a preparatory hearing to discuss the future of the case today, Judge Advocate Jeff Blackett said there was no abuse of process relating to content in secret emails apparently leaked by a Ministry of Defence source, referred to for the first time at the hearing this morning.
He said: "Provided I am satisfied that there has been no bad faith or dishonesty and that the exercise of a prosecutorial discretion has been conscientiously undertaken, I should direct that the matter proceeds to trial.
"I am so satisfied. There is no abuse of process and I dismiss the defendant's application to stay these proceedings."
Sgt Nightingale's counsel, Simon McKay, told the court the emails - leaked, he said, by an MoD "whistle-blower" - appeared to show the director of service prosecutions consulting the military "chain of command", the Adjutant General's office, on whether or not to pursue the case against the soldier.
Mr McKay said: "There is an issue of disclosure. In theory the effect of this meeting is rather like the Director of Public Prosecutions saying to the head of the Metropolitan Police: 'I'm thinking of charging one of your officers, I'd be interested in your views, thank you very much'."
However, prosecutors said there was nothing "improper" with the conduct alleged in the email.
Counsel Timothy Cray told the court: "If there was a basis, for a second, to think that the Director of Service Prosecutions said to the AG: 'Tell me what you want me to do, I will roll over and go with the army's view,' then there is something in my friend's point."
But he said there was nothing in the evidence which suggested a breach of regulations.
Sgt Nightingale, from the Duke of Lancaster regiment, appeared in court wearing full military uniform and answered "not guilty" to two charges put to him this afternoon.
The trial, at Bulford, is expected to start on July 1.Suggest a correction