Last year, before he resigned as Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon rightly responded to pressure from Jonny Mercer MP’s Defence Sub-Committee report into the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) excesses by shutting down that inquiry. Well done to all involved we said, but the problem did not begin or end with IHAT.
It is now raising its ugly head again over Northern Island and through the ‘Leigh Day’ law firm which, bolstered by a High Court judgement, is pursuing between 200 and 450 historic cases against British service personnel for alleged infringements of the law of armed conflict.
Is there any chance our government will put an end to this vexatious post-conflict persecution of our Service personnel and robustly protect those who selflessly put their lives on the line for Prime Ministers and politicians who are not personally held to account for sending them into combat? Despite hundreds of allegations against British forces personnel that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) bends over backwards to assist how many prosecutions of those who attacked our personnel or people in Iraq or Northern Ireland have taken place? Who, other than IRA terrorists have been offered a virtual pardon through the use of ‘comfort letters’?
What next, new investigations into Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Iraq 1, the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Kenya, Suez, WW2? Where does this stop? If an individual can be investigated 7 times for the same alleged offence by different authorities, and each time found to have no case to answer, is this the pursuit of justice or legalised victimisation?
DefenceSynergia does not believe that our service chiefs actually buy-in to the sophistry peddled by the discredited allegations of the now defunct Public Interest Lawyers or the now terminated IHAT investigation that for the period 2003 to 2009 was investigating over 3400 British service personnel for violation of Queens Regulations, Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict. Over the 6 year period in question this would equate to circa 566 cases per year of British service personnel, allegedly, wilfully and illegally abusing, injuring or killing Iraqi prisoners of war or non-combatants without the chain of command knowing or intervening at the time!
This is patent nonsense so when will the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), 1st Sea Lord (1SL), Chief of the General Staff (CGS) and the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) make a public stand to denounce this whole process as a licence for unscrupulous lawyers and vexatious claimants to make money at the expense of our professional, loyal and brave service personnel?