Reaction to Second Reading of Armed Forces Bill

The Armed Forces Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday.

The Bill will embed the Military Covenant – a pledge to ensure the Armed Forces community is treated fairly – into law by introducing a legal duty for relevant UK public bodies to have due regard to its principles.

Commenting on the Bill, Hilary Meredith, Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester said:

“Whilst I fully support enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant into law, other legislation currently making its way through parliament clearly disadvantages our service personnel and veterans.

“The deeply flawed Overseas Operations Bill introduces a six-year longstop on civil claims and will significantly disadvantage those who have served abroad. 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. It is also a breach of the Armed Forces Covenant. The contradiction here is as clear as day.”

Added Hilary: “After the horrors of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), the government vowed to protect our troops from witch-hunts – but there has been too much talk and not enough action. The Overseas Operations Bill fails to address the issue of prolonged and repeated investigations running into many years involving potentially fraudulent, vexatious claims. Where is the promise of a system to ensure the shameful IHAT scenario never happens again? We are also still waiting on legislation to protect Northern Ireland veterans. When is the government going to deliver on its promises?”