Legal bid to end 'witch hunts' of soldiers
Ministers in London have started working on new legislation which will ban police and prosecutors from turning investigations of British troops in Northern Ireland into a 'witch-hunt', it has been reported.
Authorities will be required by law to treat historical cases with proportionality under the new proposals being drafted in Whitehall. These would also introduce an upper age limit on who could be investigated, a five-year time limit on how long an inquiry can last, and a limit on maximum sentences for anyone found guilty.
The Bill is expected to state that since 90% of killings in the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, not soldiers, that is where 90% of police funds to investigate old cases should now be spent. It could also introduce new rules on reopening inquests after it emerged that law firms had played a major role in forcing 31 new hearings into 57 killings by Army personnel.
The new laws - designed to stop veterans facing multiple investigations which could potentially drag on for years - could also allow soldiers to send written statements rather than face the trauma of giving evidence in person, the Daily Mail reported.
Hundreds of soldiers could be quizzed as the taxpayer-funded Legacy Investigation Branch re-opens 238 'fatal events' involving 302 deaths during the Troubles.