Defence Secretary: PSNI probe into soldier killings will ‘not descend into a witch hunt’

A British soldier stands guard for the last time at Fort Whiterock Army Base in West Belfast as bulldozers move in to dismantle the remains of the 20 year old base which has been home to over 7500 troops and has seen some of the worst of the Troubles. PICTURE BY STEPHEN WILSON/PACEMAKER PRESS
A British soldier stands guard for the last time at Fort Whiterock Army Base in West Belfast as bulldozers move in to dismantle the remains of the 20 year old base which has been home to over 7500 troops and has seen some of the worst of the Troubles. PICTURE BY STEPHEN WILSON/PACEMAKER PRESS

A PSNI probe into alleged misconduct by British troops in Northern Ireland will not be allowed to turn into a “witch hunt”, Sir Michael Fallon has insisted.

The Defence Secretary gave MPs the assurance following widespread concern about the PSNI investigation into killings linked to the Troubles.

Sir Michael told the Commons Defence Sub-committee the PSNI investigation was not something that ministers could control but the Stormont agreement meant “we are now looking at how we can ensure that this process in Northern Ireland is not random, that it is properly proportionate - in other words that murders by terrorists are fully investigated if there are to be investigations into any deaths at the hands of our service personnel”.

The Defence Secretary said both the PSNI investigation and Operation Northmoor, an investigation by the Royal Military Police into events in Afghanistan would be kept under control.

He said: “I’m not going to let it [Operation Northmoor] descend into a witch hunt and I am certainly not going to let the Northern Ireland process descend into a witch hunt.”