Consultation to protect soldiers from repeated investigations

Ms Mordaunt said support for soldiers was a priority

Monday, July 22, 2019

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has launched a consultation process in response to demands for legislation to end repeated investigations into alleged historical offences by British troops.

The Portsmouth North MP said it was her personal priority to provide veterans with better support and stronger legal safeguards. 

Ms Mordaunt said that as well as the remembrance of historic war veterans, Britain also “owes a huge debt” to the soldiers who served in recent campaigns such as Afghanistan and Iraq. 

"They had our backs. We must have theirs," she said.

The 12-week review will give greater political protection to serving or former personnel accused of committing offences abroad.

Ms Mordaunt called on the government to “address the spectre of investigations into historic allegations,” adding: “Veterans and serving personnel alike have been hounded by processes often motivated by the pursuit of justice.”

She acknowledged occasional cases of serving personnel having committed offences and said: "Such individuals should not escape justice."

The Defence Secretary's proposals apply to operations overseas, but she recognised concern about those who served in Northern Ireland.

In 2017 Dennis Hutchings, a former British soldier charged of the fatal shooting of a man in Northern Ireland in 1974, protested the prosecutions of veterans who served during the Troubles.

Ms Mordaunt said the government's obligations to those veterans was the same as to those who served abroad.

Ms Mordaunt took over as Defence Secretary in May after Gavin Williamson was sacked from the post for allegedly leaking national security information to a newspaper, an accusation he denies.

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