Belfast Telegraph

Fallon seeks end to public money funding historic prosecutions in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Budget (No 2) Bill will come before MPs on Monday.

Sir Michael Fallon will attempt to stop public money being used to fund historic prosecutions of former service personnel in Northern Ireland as he seeks to amend budget legislation.

The former defence secretary will urge MPs to back changes to the Northern Ireland Budget (No 2) Bill to prevent funds being spent on reopening cases involving former members of the armed forces who served in the province before the Good Friday Agreement.

We need to stop hounding our own brave servicemen and women, and stop it now Sir Michael Fallon

Sir Michael said: “It’s morally wrong that those who served to keep us safe from terrorism should be threatened with possible imprisonment in respect of allegations made thirty or forty years ago which have already been investigated, while some of the terrorists themselves have been guaranteed immunity from prosecution through comfort letters.

“We need to stop hounding our own brave servicemen and women, and stop it now.”

The amendment to the Bill, which will come before the Commons on Monday afternoon, has cross-party support and has been signed by 34 MPs.

It comes after the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly wrote to Theresa May, urging her to create a “statute of limitations” for offences during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, in the wake of new plans to examine criminal cases.

He allegedly told the Prime Minister that British soldiers who served in the region from the 1970s to the 1990s should have the “protection they deserve”, adding: “If this means a wider amnesty, so be it.”

But Downing Street has said it “cannot countenance a proposal where amnesties would be provided to terrorists”.

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