UK soldiers who served in the Troubles ‘to be protected from unfair prosecution’

UK soldiers who served in the Troubles ‘to be protected from unfair prosecution’

Potential British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to end “unfair” prosecutions of veterans who served in Northern Ireland.

The Tory leadership contender has joined rival Jeremy Hunt in backing a public campaign supporting UK soldiers who served during the Troubles.

Mr Johnson, speaking from his campaign headquarters on Thursday, also reportedly promised to appoint a Veterans Minister if he is chosen to lead Britain.

Boris Johnson will reportedly appoint a veteran affairs minister (Liam McBurney/PA)
Boris Johnson will reportedly appoint a veteran affairs minister (Liam McBurney/PA)

“We need to end unfair trials of people who served their Queen and country when no new evidence has been produced, and when the accusations have already been exhaustively questioned in court. We must protect people against unfair prosecutions. And I will,” he told the Sun.

“I totally support the principle of cross-Government work to secure world-class care and support for veterans,” he added.

“There will be a minister with particular responsibilities for veterans in Cabinet.”

A number of Northern Ireland veterans are facing charges, including Soldier F, who has been charged in relation to the killings of two protesters on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

A deep insult to those veterans without whose courage there never would have been a Good Friday Agreement

On Monday Tory former defence minister Mark Francois said investigations into veterans who served in Northern Ireland are “a deep insult”.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Francois said: “One group of veterans who undoubtedly deserve our respect are the veterans of Northern Ireland who served for years on Operation Banner to uphold the rule of law against the IRA.

“Yet some of them now face subsequent investigations 50 years on, even including Chelsea Pensioners, while the IRA are scot-free with letters of comfort from Tony Blair.

“Does the Secretary of State agree with me that, as some have recently suggested, to quote ‘treat both sides the same’ is not only patently ludicrous but a deep insult to those veterans without whose courage there never would have been a Good Friday Agreement in the first place?”

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has been called to enact legal protections for soldiers (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has been called to enact legal protections for soldiers (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Secretary of Defence Penny Mordaunt replied: “Although we have obligations under the Stormont House Agreement and we have to approach these things in different ways, our obligations to our veterans, whether they served on an operation on UK soil or whether they served on an operation overseas, are the same obligations.”

Ms Mordaunt announced plans in May for legislation to provide stronger protection from repeated investigations into historical allegations for veterans of overseas conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the proposals, there would be a “presumption against prosecution” in relation to alleged incidents dating back more than 10 years unless there were “exceptional circumstances”.

As it stands, the legislation will not apply to those who served in Northern Ireland, although in an apparent break with Government policy, Ms Mordaunt has said she intended to find a way they could be afforded similar protection.

- Press Association

[read,more]936447[/readmore]

More on this topic

Boris Johnson’s team plays down reports he could suspend ParliamentBoris Johnson’s team plays down reports he could suspend Parliament

Boris Johnson refuses to commit to reduce net immigration after BrexitBoris Johnson refuses to commit to reduce net immigration after Brexit

Johnson and Hunt condemn Trump’s remarks but decline to brand them racistJohnson and Hunt condemn Trump’s remarks but decline to brand them racist

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to face off for final time in race for No 10Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to face off for final time in race for No 10

More in this Section

Micheál Martin calls for new Department of Higher Education and ResearchMicheál Martin calls for new Department of Higher Education and Research

Government set to oppose EU daylight saving time plansGovernment set to oppose EU daylight saving time plans

Court hears man threatened to kill garda and her husband and made 'offensive' phonecalls to four othersCourt hears man threatened to kill garda and her husband and made 'offensive' phonecalls to four others

More than 50% of Irish people admit to wasting waterMore than 50% of Irish people admit to wasting water


Lifestyle

Close to Lisbon but far less crowded, this pleasant town is the ideal base for rest and relaxation, says Liz Ryan.Cascais: The dreamy Portuguese seaside town you really need to know

Here are some ideas if you’re finding shows limited in terms of representation.5 shows that will offer your child a more diverse view of the world

Mix up your usual Friday night fish supper with this Japanese inspired number.How to make salmon teriyaki

Limestone, a river and Theodore Roosevelt. Luke Rix-Standing peels through the layers of one of nature’s mightiest sites.As the Grand Canyon turns 100 – a brief history of the world’s most famous rock formation

More From The Irish Examiner