Theresa May has criticised the investigations into hundreds of soldiers over killings in Northern Ireland during the Troubles as "unbalanced".
In an intervention in the growing row, Mrs May has sent a letter of support to veterans who believe they are being unfairly targeted.
In her letter, the Prime Minister wrote: “The UK Government is concerned that the whole system of addressing the past in Northern Ireland is unbalanced and is not working well in anyone’s interests.”
She said the “overwhelming majority of deaths caused by soldiers and police officers will have been lawful”, adding: “It is essential that investigations into the past do not unfairly treat soldiers and police officers”.
Mrs May’s support follows widespread concern that British troops are being unfairly ‘hounded’ over events that occurred up to 45 years ago. It is claimed a Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation into so-called legacy killings could be examining more than 300 deaths involving as many as 1,000 soldiers.
Mrs May said in her letter that she wanted new institutions to be established in Northern Ireland that will “ensure that the focus of the investigations will be much more on the hundreds of unsolved murders committed by terrorists, including many unsolved murders of soldiers and police”.
The new institutions - which were agreed in 2014 but have still to be set up due to political stalemate in Stormont - would look at murders during the Troubles in chronological order rather than seemingly focusing on those involved troops.
Former soldiers are more easily investigated by police than murders committed by paramilitaries because the Army kept records and carried out inquiries at the time. No such records exist for killings committed by the IRA and loyalist paramilitary groups.
Mrs May also paid tribute to the ‘sacrifice’ of troops who served in Northern Ireland and said no terror suspect - even those that had received ‘comfort’ letters sent out as part of the Good Friday Agreement - would be immune from prosecution “if there is evidence of their involvement in any crime”.