Protection for Armed Forces veterans

Richard is supporting a campaign for a statute of limitations to protect military veterans facing investigations into war-related fatalities. The current calls focus on veterans of the Northern Irish troubles in particular, but Richard has long been concerned about the treatment meted out to, for example, Iraq war veterans, many of whom faced repeated and vexatious claims brought by disreputable law firms.

On June 12 the Parliamentary Defence Select Committee renewed its calls for a Statute of Limitations and launched a fresh inquiry on protecting personnel engaged in all conflicts.

The Committee repeated the call, made in its 2017 report Investigations into fatalities in Northern Ireland involving British military personnel, in its official submission to the Northern Ireland Office’s legacy consultation. 

In a letter accompanying the 2017 report, sent on June 12 to the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, and the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the Committee, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, reiterated the Committee’s unanimous view that the best solution to the “vicious cycle of investigation and re-investigation” was a Statute of Limitations covering all Troubles-related incidents, up to the signing of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which involved former members of the Armed Forces, accompanied with a truth recovery mechanism.

The letter also expresses the Committee’s disappointment and surprise that the legacy consultation failed to include the section on alternative approaches to the past, including a description of the Committee’s recommendation, that Members had been led to expect following the Government’s official response to the Committee’s 2017 report. 

As a result of this failure, and in light of the serious and growing concerns of another IHAT debacle, the Committee has today also launched a fresh investigation into the question of how former service personnel can be protected from the spectre of investigation and re-investigation for events that happened many years, and often decades, earlier.

MPs, many of them armed forces veterans or reserves themselves, have asked questions in the House and an upcoming debate will cover the subject. In addition, the inquiry will be open for submissions until the end of July 2018.