'Ambulance-chasing lawyers' are undermining British troops, Michael Fallon warns
British forces fighting overseas are being undermined by fears they could be sued by "ambulance-chasing" lawyers, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has warned.
Mr Fallon told The Sunday Telegraph there was "a strong case" for suspending European human rights laws when UK troops are in action overseas.
His comments follow a string of legal cases brought by British lawyers on behalf of people claiming their rights were breached during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We don't need these ambulance-chasing British law firms," he said.
"It is not only extremely expensive but it inhibits the operational effectiveness of our troops because they start to worry about whether they will end up in a court or not."
Currently legal action can be brought under the Human Rights Act (HRA) which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in British law.
However the Government is committed to scrapping the HRA and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights.
Mr Fallon said that he hoped the new legislation could be in place as soon as possible.
"I would like to see (the Bill of Rights) soon because some of these court rulings are beginning to affect the effectiveness of British troops."
The Defence Secretary's comments were dismissed as the "worst kind of jingoistic rubbish" by Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.
"Our soldiers are currently fighting extremism to protect values like freedom, democracy and civil liberties - the very human rights that others seek to extinguish.
"We do not win by joining such terrorists in the gutter by diminishing our own commitment to human rights. We win by being more tolerant, open and decent," he said.
"Our soldiers fought to protect our liberties, now some politicians are trying to hide behind them to strip us of our human rights."