Judge-led Inquiry into investigation of troops is a step in the right direction

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Ministry of Defence has ordered a judge-led Inquiry into investigations of our troops, which could block repeated inquiries into allegations.

The Defence Secretary said the review into how allegations of wrongdoing are raised and investigated will help tackle the uncertainty faced by military personnel on future overseas operations.

The Telegraph says the retired High Court Judge appointed to lead the inquiry will be publicly named in the coming days.

The Inquiry will complement the reforms made under the Overseas Operations Bill, which is currently going through parliament.

Earlier this month, I provided evidence to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee highlighting the glaring omissions in the Overseas Operations Bill.

In particular, I explained why Section 2 of the Bill needs to be scrapped. There is no requirement to place a time limit on civil compensation claims brought by foreign nationals against the MoD as a corporation if a robust system of investigation is in place. If this section is not required, neither is the ‘equality’ argument of subjecting our own members of the armed forces to reduced time limits if injured or killed overseas. The proposed six-year longstop on civil claims in this legislation will significantly disadvantage those who have served abroad – particularly service personnel and veterans who suffer from latent diseases. It is totally unacceptable for the Government to legislate to deny those who put their lives on the line for our country overseas the same employer liability rights as the UK civilians they defend. The section must be scrapped – it clearly breaches the Armed Forces Covenant.

I welcome news of this judge-led Inquiry and believe it will pave the way for the removal of section 2 from the Overseas Operations Bill. It’ll be interesting to see who is appointed to lead the Inquiry along with its full remit.

Hilary Meredith