Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Corbyn ducks war veteran's question over prosecutions of Northern Ireland Troubles soldiers

By Jonny Bell

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of ducking a confrontation with a war veteran who wanted to ask the Labour leader his stance on the prosecutions of soldiers who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

During a rally in York, the Labour Leader addressed thousands of supporters. However, he was later embroiled in a row with a war veteran.

Rob Gray, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland asked if he could ask the Labour leader a question, with Mr Corbyn agreeing to "come down" from the podium to speak to the man.

In an ITV News video Mr Corbyn is seen stepping off the stage, but instead of heading toward the war veteran he climbs off the stage and walks through the crowd and away.

Mr Gray calls to him several times asking "Mr Corbyn, will you answer my question or not?" and walks after Mr Corbyn.

Local media organisation York Mix captured Mr Gray in a confrontation with a security officer.

“I was totally respectful,” he said. “What is the position of Labour on the prosecutions of veterans in Northern Ireland?

“That’s all we wanted to ask. And he’s gone off – he knew there was a question waiting for him – he saw the beret and the medals and he went.

“He’s refused to answer as far as I’m concerned.”

The Belfast Telegraph has contacted the Labour party for a comment.

Labour sources told York Mix Mr Corbyn's team did not want him among such a large crowd as he had done numerous times on the campaign trail, and later a senior member of his team spoke with Mr Gray for 15 minutes.

A Labour spokesman told the organisation: “Labour supports the Good Friday Agreement, which states that the Crown Prosecution Service should be able to prosecute for the most serious crimes committed by any party to the conflict. Labour believes it is vital for all sides to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.”

Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism over reported links to the IRA. He has defended reaching out to Sinn Fein during the Troubles saying he was doing so to try and put an end to violence.

Former soldiers have accused the authorities of a "witch-hunt" against them and their colleagues to try and bring them before the courts, while those that carried out terrorist attacks walk free.

Last year, two former soldiers were told they will be prosecuted for murder over the 1972 death of official IRA commander Joe McCann. Another prominent case involves retired soldier Dennis Hutchings. The 75-year-old is to face trial accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm in relation to a fatal shooting in 1974.

A Commons committee has called for a statue of limitations on Troubles-related cases.

Read more: 

Labour leader Corbyn faces fresh criticism for silence over Warrington bombing

Jeremy Corbyn: I didn't support IRA violence ... the violence was wrong on all sides and I have said so all along 

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