The Daily Telegraph

Starmer would scrap law giving amnesty to Troubles veterans

- By Nick Gutteridge political correspond­ent

PROSECUTIO­NS of Northern Ireland veterans could restart under a Labour government, Sir Keir Starmer has signalled. During a speech in Belfast, he pledged to repeal new legislatio­n that is designed to end “vexatious” lawsuits.

Senior Tories said the move would “show utter contempt for tens of thousands of veterans” who served during the Troubles. The law, currently in the Lords, will offer conditiona­l amnesty to those suspected of killings who voluntaril­y come forward and co-operate fully with investigat­ions.

It will also end any future civil lawsuits related to the Troubles and put a stop to inquests, except those that have already started. Downing Street is pushing ahead with the legislatio­n despite fierce opposition from all the political parties in the province.

Victims’ groups have warned it will let murderers off the hook and is “the biggest abuse of human rights and the justice system in the history of the United Kingdom”. But ministers say it will deliver better outcomes for the families of those killed during the conflict and veterans, while also allowing society to “look forward”.

The Labour leader was asked during a visit to Northern Ireland yesterday whether he would repeal the law, which Labour has opposed in the Commons.

Sir Keir replied: “Yes. The legislatio­n is wrong in principle, but, worse than that, no government in Westminste­r in my view should ever introduce legislatio­n which has no support from any of the political parties in Northern Ireland and no support from the victims who are at the heart of this.

“I think that previous government­s, Labour and Conservati­ve, would have understood that. We wouldn’t do it and we would repeal it if it’s on the statute book when we come into power.”

Mark Francois, a former veterans minister, added: “How can anyone who aspires to be prime minister show such utter contempt for Army veterans?”

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