Hilary Meredith backs Defence Secretary over historical allegations

Hilary Meredith, who provided evidence to Parliament’s Statute of Limitations – Veterans Protections Inquiry, has welcomed news that Defence Secretary Penny Mourdant wants to extend protection to troops from repeated investigations into historical allegations to cover veterans of Northern Ireland.
Penny Mordaunt said she feared the Government was in danger of repeating the mistakes of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) with veterans of the Troubles.
Ms Mordaunt has signalled she intends to create a “statutory presumption” against prosecution of current or former personnel for alleged offences committed in the course of duty abroad more than 10 years ago.
The Ministry of Defence, however, says that would not apply to Northern Ireland, and in cases where there is compelling evidence.
“I do think it [additional protection] should cover Northern Ireland,” she said during a conference at the Royal United Services Institute.
“The problem is that we have failed on the whole ‘lawfare’ issue because we have been waiting for other things to happen.
“This is not going to be resolved overnight. It is a priority of mine.”
The legislation proposals will be subject to a public consultation.
Commenting on developments, Hilary Meredith, Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester said:
“I have always maintained that it will be a fundamental dereliction of duty if the Government fails to enact a statute of limitations to protect our troops from this witch hunt.“Anything other than a statute of limitations, setting the maximum time after which legal proceedings may be initiated is a betrayal of our veterans, many of whom have already have had their lives ruined by false accusations and flawed, aggressive investigations.”Added Hilary: “In recent times military service personnel have been exposed to individual prosecution like never before.
“Whilst each set of circumstances and reasons behind these potential prosecutions differ, changes to the law are necessary in order to encompass all circumstances.
“New legislation is urgently needed in order to provide protection for our serving soldiers and veterans. I welcome the Defence Secretary’s prompt action and look forward to her promises becoming a reality for our brave veterans.”