We welcome moves to protect UK troops from “vexatious” legal claims

Hilary Meredith also calls for time limits to be imposed and says framework of support is urgently needed

Hilary Meredith has welcomed measures to protect UK troops from “vexatious” legal claims – but says a framework of support for servicemen and women is still urgently needed.

The Government’s change in policy, to be announced at the Conservative conference, would mean parts of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) could be suspended during future conflicts.

Much of the litigation faced by the Ministry of Defence comes from claims under the ECHR, the government says.

Hilary Meredith, CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd, has been instructed by clients currently subject to judicial process and investigations, including a decorated major who faces prosecution for manslaughter over the death of an Iraqi teenager 13 years ago.

Today’s announcement would  mean that in future conflicts, subject to a vote of both Houses of Parliament, the UK would “derogate” from Article two (right to life) and Article five (right to liberty) of the ECHR.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Hilary.

“The good the Human Rights Act was brought in to do has been overshadowed by those who abuse it – and it is our servicemen and women who have suffered.”

There has also been talk of time limits being introduced for those bringing claims against UK military service personnel – a move Hilary also supports.

“Introducing time limits is a sensible step in an attempt to reduce the number of bogus claims being brought.  Many of these claims are entirely without foundation having been fully investigated years ago.

“In civil matters, there is generally a three or six year time limit to bring a claim.   It would make sense for the same three year time limit to apply to the battlefield.”

Hilary is calling on the Government to introduce a framework of support for servicemen and women facing judicial process with immediate effect.

She concluded:

“What the Government has so far failed to address is the need for a framework of support – legal, mental health and welfare – for servicemen and women facing judicial process. Under the armed forces covenant, which sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and the armed forces, this is the very least they deserve.”