The UK Government has announced new measures to strengthen legal protection for servicing and former armed forces personnel from alleged historical offences.
The new proposals will tackle the rising trend of repeated criminal and civil cases being launched against members of the armed forces and veterans many years after the alleged events happened. They include a presumption that personnel and veterans will not normally face prosecution 10 years after the alleged event, as well as restricting the ability of courts to extend the time limit for civil claims.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt launched a public consultation on the new measures this week.
This consultation does not cover Northern Ireland as this work is being led by the Northern Ireland Office.
While armed forces personnel will still be required to act within the strict limits of the law, these measures are designed to avoid repeated and speculative claims against veterans often many years after the alleged event. A number of law firms have fed into what has been called ‘lawfare’, the judicialization of armed conflict, in recent years.
Welcoming the move,Kirstene Hair MP said: “A number of constituents have been in contact with me about this issue. I know that many people are increasing concerned about the stress and upset caused by the increase in ‘lawfare’.
“These proposed measures are not about making the armed forces above the law, but will recognise the unique pressures faced by personnel in the field.
“Our brave armed forces men and women do an incredible job to protect us and our nation. They make huge sacrifices and work in exceptionally challenging environment all in the name of our national security. It is only right that the Government ensures it does all it can to continue to support them after they have served.
“Many people agree it is disgraceful that veterans who have served our country continue to have the threat of repeated prosecution hanging over them many years after the alleged incident. I am pleased the UK Government is taking steps to right this wrong.”