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Lynx Helicopter
A Lynx Helicopter of the Army Air Corps ready to touch down on a desert road south of Basra Airport, to link up with a RAF Regiment vehicle patrol. Photo: Harland Quarrington/MOD

It is reported that the Defence Select Committee is to look into the issue of protecting former members of the Armed Forces from prosecution for alleged historical events in Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This afternoon, the 3rd of September, Colonels Tim Collins and Jorge Mendonca are to provide evidence to the Committee as well as their advice on how to provide better protection for personnel against these sorts of allegations.

This will be the first evidence session of the Select Committee which is looking into these historical events. The current Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, had previously stated that he would do as much as he could to sort the issue and to remove the threat of prosecution for action taken by troops in combat, or follow-up operations, where the strict application of civil-law might suggest that, in the cool, calm light of a civilian day, someone should be held individually accountable for their actions.

The nonsense of such an approach is abundantly clear to anyone who has served in the military. To put troops in harm’s way and then expect them to make perfectly rational and considered decisions when looking down the barrel of a rifle or rocket-launcher is not only daft, it is plain arrogance on the part of those whose own lives are made safer by the actions of the Armed Forces of this country.

We hope that the Defence Select Committee’s other aim today, namely looking at how the MOD can better support its Veterans from any future legal action, will also produce tangible results so that soldiers, sailors, and airmen can put this behind them and get on with their lives without the fear of prosecution.

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