Witch-hunt anger at sol­dier’s sui­cide

Daily Express - - News - By John Ing­ham De­fence Editor ● Mr Hutch­ings is crowd­fund­ing his ju­di­cial re­view. Go to www.crowd­jus­tice.com/case/jus­tice4vet­er­ans/

PRES­SURE grew on Boris John­son to halt the North­ern Ire­land witch-hunt af­ter a Bri­tish vet­eran fac­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion took his life last week.

For­mer Royal High­land Fusilier Ed­die “Spud” Mur­phy was re­port­edly found dead on Thurs­day by his wife.

Mr Mur­phy, is be­lieved to have sur­vived at least one IRA bomb at­tack while serving his coun­try.

De­tails of his death emerged on Twit­ter where a friend, call­ing him­self Dukesy, wrote: “He served in North­ern Ire­land, was blown up by the IRA and for­tu­nate to sur­vive.


“More re­cently he was sub­ject to the his­toric in­quiry witch-hunt. He tried to take his life three times be­fore. This time he suc­ceeded, a vic­tim of the IRA.”

One vet­eran said the case un­der­lined the dou­ble stan­dards in the way in­ci­dents are dealt with.

In 1971 three off-duty sol­diers from the fusilier’s reg­i­ment were lured to their deaths in an IRA honey trap. But no one has ever been con­victed and one of the sus­pects was given a letter guar­an­tee­ing he would not be pros­e­cuted. Alan Barry, 55, said: “There’s one rule for the IRA and an­other for Bri­tish vet­er­ans.”

Vet­eran Den­nis Hutch­ings, 78, who is se­ri­ously ill, warned that the threat of pros­e­cu­tion could drive oth­ers to take their lives. Six Bri­tish vet­er­ans al­ready face trial over rein­ves­ti­ga­tions of in­ci­dents dat­ing back to 1972. But hun­dreds more face re-open­ings.

Fol­low­ing the Daily Ex­press cam­paign to halt the witch-hunt, Mr John­son vowed to end “vex­a­tious” pros­e­cu­tions within 100 days of the elec­tion.

Mr Hutch­ings, from Corn­wall, faces trial next month when he will deny at­tempted mur­der. He said: “Mr Mur­phy’s case is ab­so­lutely tragic. If it is be­cause of the witch-hunt I fully un­der­stand what he was go­ing through and why he might have done it.

“I had those same thoughts two years ago. For­tu­nately I am not at that point now. I am fight­ing them.” The witch-hunt will be branded “dis­crim­i­na­tory” in a bid for a ju­di­cial re­view be­ing brought by Mr Hutch­ings. His lawyers say vet­er­ans are 54 times more likely to be pros­e­cuted than IRA ter­ror­ists.

The Vet­er­ans Sup­port Group said: “We now ur­gently need the Govern­ment to bring in the leg­is­la­tion it has promised.”

North­ern Ire­land vet­eran Colonel Richard Kemp also told the Prime Min­is­ter to hon­our his pledge. He said: “It is de­spi­ca­ble. He needs to stop it now be­fore we lose any more.”


Johnny Mercer, De­fence Min­is­ter, said: “This Prime Min­is­ter has promised leg­is­la­tion to end vex­a­tious and re­peated pros­e­cu­tion of vet­er­ans with­out new ev­i­dence. He tasked me to do it. By March 18.And we will.”

A Govern­ment spokesman said: “Ev­ery part of Eng­land now has a ded­i­cated men­tal health ser­vice for vet­er­ans.” They could also call the MoD-funded helpline, the Vet­er­ans’ Gate­way on 0808 802 1212.

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