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