If Hit & Run is accurate and what Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson have written is true, then there has been a massive deceit of the New Zealand public.

If true, it should spell the end of the Special Air Service's aura of secrecy because - again if true - it has been so badly misused that it cannot be allowed to continue.

There must be an inquiry to find out where the truth lies. It should be announced this week.

The broad allegation is that the SAS designed and led a raid which led to civilian deaths and casualties and then conspired to cover it up, misleading New Zealanders and possibly even the politicians who defended them publicly.

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Former Prime Minister John Key put himself on the line over the raid, assuring New Zealand there were no civilian deaths and that the people killed were combatants.

Hager and Stephenson say they don't know what he knew - they say he may have been misled into giving the assurances he did.

An inquiry is essential because their version of events - meticulous as it appears - is so different from the official record, of which no details have ever been released publicly.

Citing operational secrecy, the NZ Defence Force has given no index-filled, tabulated and sourced accounts of their activities.

In contrast, Hit & Run sources each claim and statement. The book appears to make its own case for trust.

It is essential for the health of our military and the trust it needs from the public to find the truth.