'LIMITATIONS ON THE LEGAL PURSUIT OF SERVICEMEN'
Daily Telegraph – 1 August 2019
On July 22, the cross-party Defence Select Committee published its third report in as many years on the legal pursuit of Service personnel and veterans long after the conflicts in which they fought. Called Drawing a Line, it proposed what we describe as a “Qualified Statute of Limitations” (QSL) with a presumption against further legal action more than 10 years after the events concerned, unless compelling new evidence emerges.
A QSL is emphatically not an amnesty, which, as your leading article (“End the witch-hunt”, July 30) points out, would be opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party. Instead, a QSL ensures that, if a crime has been committed, a prosecution can continue to be brought indefinitely, when strong and previously undiscovered evidence is produced.
However, as it guarantees that Service personnel and veterans cannot repeatedly be investigated in the absence of new evidence, the QSL principle received both Government and DUP support in a Commons vote on July 9 on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill. This, we believe, is the right way forward, not only in Northern Ireland, but in respect of foreign conflicts, too.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Chairman, Defence Committee
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA