Threat of Troubles probes ‘scaring veterans to death’

The threat of investigations into Northern Ireland military veterans is “scaring them to death”, a former defence minister has warned.

Conservative Sir Mike Penning, who served in the country during the Troubles, said it was “fundamentally wrong” that ex-servicemen are “being treated like terrorists in this area”.

Sir Mike Penning asked for a House of Commons debate on the 'persecution' of veterans

Sir Mike Penning asked for a House of Commons debate on the 'persecution' of veterans

He told the Commons: “It is scaring them to death, being dragged into a judicial process which was resolved years and years ago.

“And they have been forgotten, I’m afraid, by governments on both sides of this House, that they didn’t ask to go to Northern Ireland, they were sent.

“They were sent to do a job to keep the peace and it is fundamentally wrong that they are being prosecuted today.”

Sir Mike, speaking during business questions, asked for a debate on the “persecution of veterans that served in Northern Ireland”.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said she was “extremely sympathetic” to his comments, and suggested he raise the matter with the defence secretary and Northern Ireland secretary.

She said: “We without any doubt owe a vast debt of gratitude to the heroism and bravery of all of our soldiers and police officers who upheld the rule of law and were themselves accountable to it.

“He will appreciate that the current system in Northern Ireland isn’t working well for soldiers, for police officers, or for the victims.”

In July, more than 30 Tory MPs supported a backbench proposal for a 20-year time limit on reopening cases involving former members of the armed forces who served in Northern Ireland.