Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Army chief: PSNI is 'harrying' veterans in Troubles inquiries

By Ellie Cullen

The former head of the Army has urged the Government to put a stop to the "macabre charade" that could see veterans facing legal action.

Lord Bramall said it was "absurd and grossly unfair" that soldiers who took part in the events of Bloody Sunday in 1972 should be questioned by police now - and accused the PSNI of "harrying" veterans in a "desperate attempt to bring criminal charges".

In June 2010, then Prime Minister David Cameron issued a formal state apology for the killing of 14 civil rights marchers that day. Cameron told the House of Commons: "What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong."

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Bramall said he had warned against such action in a speech eight years ago.

He said: "It is... bewildering that the Government has somehow allowed the Northern Ireland police service to resurrect the whole affair and to introduce this extremely lengthy and slow-moving questioning under caution of British soldiers.

"Whatever their shortcomings, they were trying to do their duty as they thought fit in aid of the civil power, as the Army has generally done most successfully over so many years.

"In the interests of justice, fair play and even-handedness, the Government must, by whatever means, put a stop at once to this macabre charade."

His comments come after the new head of the armed forces spoke out about veterans being "chased by people making vexatious claims" of wrongdoing, vowing: "That will not happen on my watch."

Sir Nick Carter praised the "remarkable job" done by the British Army in Northern Ireland and said groundless allegations against soldiers risked undermining its fighting spirit.

MPs have called on the Government to introduce a statute of limitations to end what they claim is a "witch-hunt".

A consultation document issued by Secretary of State Karen Bradley on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles does not include provision for a statute of limitations, to the anger of many Conservative MPs.

But Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged to look at "all options" to protect veterans from legacy probes amid fears Second World War fighters could be targeted.

Belfast Telegraph

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