Belfast Telegraph

Defence Minister vows to help NIO protect veterans

By Josh Thomas

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has said her department will "provide formal input" into any process led by the NIO to provide protection for veterans from so-called "legal witch hunts".

In a written statement to Parliament, Ms Mordaunt confirmed a "short public consultation" on measures to be brought forward in legislation.

Last week, Ms Mordaunt announced the intention to provide stronger protection from repeated investigations into historical allegations for veterans of overseas conflicts.

Under the proposals, there would be a "presumption against prosecution" in relation to alleged incidents dating back more than 10 years.

As it stands, the legislation will not apply to those who served in Northern Ireland.

Ms Mordaunt added: "I have agreed with the Northern Ireland Secretary that my department will provide formal input to any process taken forward by the Northern Ireland Office resulting from the Stormont House Agreement.

"I understand the importance of making sure this process is fair and has the trust of all sides, supporting the commitments of the UK and Irish governments to the Belfast Agreement and to peace in Northern Ireland.

"In this spirit, we intend to share our considerable experience of the practical difficulties of investigating historical allegations from Iraq and Afghanistan and the unintended consequences that resulted from it, and the impact this has had on Armed Forces personnel."

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