The Island’s MP is supporting changes to the law which would give British servicemen and women more protection against so-called “legacy prosecutions”.
During a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday (9 July) about the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, Bob Seely spoke in support of an amendment put forward by former Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, calling on the Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mourdant to report on progress made towards the new prosecution guidance for legacy cases, taking into account whether the person who allegedly committed an offence had been lawfully armed.
Bob Seely said it was deeply unfair that the state seemed to be actively looking to bring soldiers, who were legally doing their job under the law to justice, while not looking to bring former terrorists to task.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt is expected to put forward legislation designed to ensure veterans and service personnel, are not subjected to repeated investigations on historical operations, years after the events in question took place.
Mr Seely said its grossly different treatment between former IRA terrorists and former servicemen, who faced repeat investigations into past actions, was ‘morally squalid’.
This precedent, he said, was also causing concern for serving and recently retired solders who feared they could face future prosecution over politically motivated allegations in future.
Bob also said about Island Veterans:
“Many Islanders are veterans or have services links and, having spoken to many of them, they are appalled at politically motivated attempts to prosecuted veterans, especially when those allegations have been examined and found to be baseless. We need to make sure that our servicemen and women obey the highest standards, but also that they are protected now and in future against malicious lawsuits.”
He went on to say:
“There is a clear difference between people who were lawfully armed, trying to preserve the peace and the good order of society, and those who went out unlawfully to try to disrupt that.”
Cllr Ian Ward BEM, County President of the IW Royal British Legion, Armed Forces Champion for the IW Council and a retired army officer said:
“In the veteran community there are deep feelings of anger, betrayal, unfairness and rejection by their own governments who sent them to serve their nation by protecting communities in Northern Ireland from politically motivated, ruthless terrorists who often had little regard for their fellow citizens and took the lives of innocent men, women and children.”
He went on to say:
“Veterans feel doubly betrayed as many of those terrorists have been granted immunity from prosecution while ex-servicemen face prosecution into their 70’s and 80’s. This is a shameful situation which needs to be addressed urgently by the current Government.”