The mistreatment of British soldiers and veterans must stop now.
The plight of Dennis Hutchings represents the worst of it. Dennis, who joined the Army aged 19 and served in the Life Guards, is 77 and seriously ill. But after being arrested, he now faces trial for attempted murder for an incident that took place in 1974 and for which he has previously cleared of any wrongdoing twice before. It’s impossible not to feel outrage over his treatment. But this issue is wider that Northern Ireland - veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have faced the same legal assault.
For example, decorated Major Bob Campbell who now faces his eighth investigation over the death of Iraqi teen in 2003 despite being repeatedly cleared of any wrongdoing.
Soldiers need to be able to go to war and do their duty, knowing that when they come home the job is done and they can get on with their lives – and not have the constant fear hanging over them of one day being prosecuted in some sort of spurious manner
I’m calling for a Statute of Limitations which would mean that soldiers and veterans cannot be spuriously pursues for historic allegations when they have served honourably and done their duty and I hope the government will act to bring this into law.
Soldiers need to be able to go to war and do their duty, knowing that when they come home the job is done and they can get on with their lives – and not have the constant fear hanging over them of one day being prosecuted in some sort of spurious manner. And at a time when the military is under-recruited who is going to join up and serve with confidence if they see reports of veterans being prosecuted?
Our armed forces personnel is the best in the world and they do not expected to be above the law, they just deserve natural justice. Throughout our modern history soldiers have been governed by the Law of Armed Conflict and the Geneva convention. This worked well until Tony Blair brought in the Human Rights Act of 1998 meaning British soldiers serving around the world came under The European Court of Human Rights. This has led to the appalling mistreatment of soldiers and veterans. If we don’t stop it now, it will lead to an enfeeblement of our military’s ability to fight and our ability as a nation to project force around the world and protect our interests.
Next week, on June 25th, which marks the start of Armed Forces Week, I will present a petition to the House of Commons calling for the Statute of Limitations.
The more signatures I have, the stronger the message will be. Please sign now, to help protect our soldiers and veterans: