Veterans stage protest over Troubles 'witch-hunt'

Ben Farmer
Protesters at a military veterans' rally at Horse Guards Parade in London - PA Wire/PA Images

The government should pass a statue of limitations preventing British Army veterans from prosecution over killings during the Troubles, the chair of the Commons defence committee has said.

Dr Julian Lewis MP told veterans rallying against a “witch hunt” they say is targeting former soldiers that “common sense and natural justice” demanded an end to the prosecutions.

A British Army armoured vehicle makes its way along a barricade while on patrol in the Lower Falls area of west Belfast during The Troubles Credit: AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz

Dr Lewis said new criminal investigations over killings that had already had military inquiries were “totally unfair”.

The investigation of former soldiers has caused outcry among veterans who contrast their treatment with the Government’s decision to free IRA prisoners and reassure on the run terrorists they will not be pursued.

It emerged late last year that as many as 1,000 soldiers are under investigation over 302 killings that took place over a 35-year period since 1969.

Dr Lewis said his committee was investigating the issue, but his early thoughts were “that a statute of limitations should be possible if it’s coupled with a mechanism for helping uncover the truth”.

The Troubles

He said the statute should apply to all sides in the conflict.

Around 1,000 veterans rallied in London, with more marching in Glasgow and Belfast.

Alan Dalgliesh, 53, who served with 2nd Bn Scots Guards between 1979 and 1994, said: "It's a bit of a witch-hunt for me.

"You join up (to the Army), take your allegiance and you're doing it for the government and now they're backtracking and getting folk for their duty.

"It's just wrong that you're just waiting for that knock on the door about something that happened years ago which you did as your job.

"Every regiment, every veteran is united on this. I've heard of a couple of guys who've had a knock on their door (from police) asking: 'What happened here, what happened there?'"

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