The money-saving inspired motive behind the Overseas Operations Bill

New figures obtained by shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, reported in The Mirror, show that for every claim of mistreatment by British soldiers in warzones there are 25 against the MoD for injury or negligence by the soldiers themselves.

Ministers say the new Overseas Operations Bill will protect troops from vexatious claims and endless investigations. But it will also set a six-year time limit for soldiers to make their own claims.

In 15 years, the MoD settled 300 claims totalling £20million by Iraqis alleging ill treatment by British troops. But over the same period between 2004-19 they paid out £752million to soldiers in 21,000 employer liability claims.

There is absolutely no need for Section 2 of the Overseas Bill, which introduces the six-year long stop on civil claims.

The proposed six-year longstop on civil claims 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.

The rhetoric we are given – that Section 2 is required in order to make the Overseas Operations Bill “equitable” – becomes more suspicious when we see the number of credible cases from our armed forces against the few vexatious claims by civilians under the Human Rights Act in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is a sad fact that there always seems to be a money-saving inspired motive with everything the MoD does – and the proposed six-year longstop on civil claims is no different.

Hilary Meredith