MPs Act To Make Armed Forces Personnel Exempt From Prosecution

Leo Docherty MP, a former British Army officer, has called for the British Armed Forces to be exempt from prosecution under the European Convention on Human Rights.

As it stands at the moment, soldiers can be chased and hounded years after returning from operational duties in relation to alleged breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The armed force’s community have been in an uproar over the manner in which soldiers have been chased by compensation firms who often take ‘spurious’ allegations from people who claim that they have been the victim of ‘abuse’.

However, the majority of these cases have been found to be fabricated as those making the allegations are promised big payouts if their cases are ‘successful’.

This situation has led to the UK being a ‘laughing stock’ amongst overseas veteran communities who simply do not understand why our veterans are allowed to be chased by organisations which are seeking to win huge payouts for their clients.

Mr Docherty has warned that this constant threat hangs over the heads of troops as they fight on the battlefield with the fear of being prosecuted when they return back home.

Mr Docherty has also said that this situation has threatened the viability of future deployments of armed forces personnel overseas.

He also pointed out that ten countries including France and Spain have in effect opted out of certain aspects of the ECHR in order to avoid their armed forces being treated in the same way as many have been in the UK armed forces.

Many in the armed forces community have also pointed out that there is little wonder that the British Army is facing a recruitment shortage when brave soldiers are being publically pursued by legal firms after returning from harrowing combat zones.

The draft law has been backed by ex-Armed Forces ministers in the House of Commons. But at the moment, it appears to be lacking government backing so is unlikely to become law in its current form.

Mr Docherty said:

“No other country has such a perverse situation in which soldiers who have done their duty and done no wrong face this kind of sustained legal pursuit.”

“Our Armed Forces need to know they can deploy and fight on our behalf, while adhering to the Geneva Conventions and the laws of armed conflict.

“They need to know they can deploy and fight on our behalf and will not then not face spurious legal accusations years and decades after the event.”

On his website, Mr Docherty says:

‘After graduating from the Royal Military Sandhurst I completed operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘My regiment – 1st Battalion Scots Guards – is based in Mons Barracks in Aldershot as part of 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade.

‘I wrote about my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan in “Desert of Death” published by Faber in 2007.

‘On leaving the Army I travelled from Turkey to Afghanistan on horseback, bicycle and on foot – a journey which lasted six months and culminated in playing the traditional Afghan game of Buzkashi in the mountains of the Hindu Kush.’

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