Min­is­ters at war over the ‘witch-hunt’ into veter­ans of Trou­bles

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Larisa Brown De­fence and Se­cu­rity Ed­i­tor

MIN­IS­TERS are at log­ger­heads over a Bill to stop in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Bri­tish troops’ con­duct in North­ern Ire­land from turn­ing into a ‘witch-hunt’, it was claimed last night.

De­fence Sec­re­tary Sir Michael Fallon wants leg­is­la­tion to stop the au­thor­i­ties launch­ing probes into veter­ans in their 60s and 70s un­less new ev­i­dence has come to light, sources said.

With po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing Bri­tish Army killings dur­ing the Trou­bles, there have been fears that up to 1,000 for­mer sol­diers could face in­ves­ti­ga­tions over their ac­tions at the height of the IRA’s ter­ror­ism cam­paign.

But it is un­der­stood North­ern Ire­land Sec­re­tary James Bro­ken­shire is push­ing for the clause favoured by Sir Michael to be omit­ted so cases can be re­opened ei­ther way.

Army sources said he was un­der pres­sure from Sinn Fein to en­sure both sides were happy with the draft Bill’s terms, although Mr Bro­ken­shire’s of­fice said they did not recog­nise this ac­count of the dispute.

Last year it emerged that a new po­lice unit will in­ves­ti­gate every Bri­tish Army killing dur­ing the Trou­bles.

Mr Bro­ken­shire’s of­fice said his view was the same as that ex­pressed in the Con­ser­va­tives’ 2017 man­i­festo, which pledged leg­is­la­tion will be ‘bal­anced’ and ‘not fo­cus on for­mer troops and po­lice’.

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