The UK Government has announced new measures to strengthen legal protection for servicing and former armed forces personnel from alleged historical offences.
The new proposals will tackle the rising trend of repeated criminal and civil cases being launched against members of the armed forces and veterans many years after the alleged events happened. They include a presumption that personnel and veterans will not normally face prosecution 10 years after the alleged event, as well as restricting the ability of courts to extend the time limit for civil claims.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt yesterday (Monday 22nd July) launched a public consultation on the new measures.
They do not cover Northern Ireland as this work is being led by the Northern Ireland Office.
While armed forces personnel will still be required to act within the strict limits of the law, these measures are designed to avoid repeated and speculative claims against veterans often many years after the alleged event. A number of law firms have fed into what has been called ‘lawfare’, the judicialization of armed conflict, in recent years.
Welcoming the move, John Lamont MP said: “A number of constituents have been in touch with me about this issue in recent months. I know this increasing phenomenon of ‘lawfare’ has concerned many people.
“These proposed measures are not about making the armed forces above the law, but will recognise the unique pressures faced by personnel in the field.
“Our armed forces do an incredible job to protect us and our nation. They are prepared to be stationed away from loved ones in challenging environments and to risk their lives for us. The very least they are owed is some justice and fairness.
“It has been a disgrace to hear about veterans who have served our country having the threat of repeated prosecution hanging over them many years after the alleged incident. I am pleased the UK Government is taking steps to right this wrong.”