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Aldershot MP calls for laws to end historical prosecutions of veterans

Aldershot MP calls for laws to end historical prosecutions of veterans

Published by Carol Musgrave at 6:01am 21st July 2019. (Updated at 8:17am 21st July 2019)

A local MP is calling for support to bring into a law a pledge to end historical investigations against former soldiers.

Aldershot's member of parliament Leo Docherty is backing The Sun newspaper's Veterans' Pledge, launched last week.

The three-pronged pledge advocates for new laws that would:

  • create an Office of Veterans Affairs within the Cabinet Office, with a Cabinet-level Minister, to ensure world-class care and support for former Armed Forces personnel;
  • enshrine the Military Covenant into law, so that no veteran or their family should ever face any disadvantage because of their service for this country; and
  • end vexatious investigations into historical allegations against our troops - including in Northern Ireland - to be passed before the next General Election.

He says he is especially concerned about what he describes as "spurious legal pursuit" of former troops:

"We're not asking for soldiers to be above the law.

"We're simply saying that soldiers who've been acquitted on any wrongdoing, wherever it may have been, do not face repeat prosecutions, especially in the case of Northern Ireland veterans such as Dennis Hutchings, who has faced numerous enquiries and has been acquitted of any wrongdoing.

"And yet because of political motivation in Northern Ireland he faces being dragged through the courts again". 

He said "we need a specific legal response to stop this happening."

Mr Docherty says he is planning to present a petition to the House of Commons in September.

He says he is pleased that it is endorsed by Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.

And he says in this regard, it will not matter which of the two Tory Party leadership candidates is prime minister:

"I'm really pleased that both candidates - Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson - have backed the Sun's Veteran Pledge.

"So I think politically start are aligning...I think there is political will.

"But I think it's very important that members of the public show their support for this so when we do get a new government there's absolutely no shadow of a doubt that this gets driven through in all haste".

Mr Docherty said "the more signatures there are the greater the likelihood that the new Prime Minister will take notice and put the Veterans’ Pledge into law.”

He said the Defence Committee in the House of Commons is bringing out a report on Monday (July 22) calling for a statute of limitations on the legal pursuit of veterans.

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