By Ben Farmer
Daily Telegraph – 17 January 2017
The pursuit of British troops through the courts for alleged abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland will severely hamper Forces recruitment, a former shadow defence minister has warned.
Julian Lewis MP said the country appeared to have taken leave of its senses in allowing law firms legal aid to bring claims from Iraqis against troops. He spoke as the Supreme Court today hands down a long-awaited ruling on whether British troops in Afghanistan broke the law by holding a Taliban bombmaker for more than 96 hours after he was seized in a raid.
The Ministry of Defence fears the case of Serdar Mohammed could set a precedent for hundreds more Afghans to pursue claims. Thousands of criminal complaints have also been lodged against troops who served in Iraq, although a £57 million investigation by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) has yet to make a single conviction.
Mr Lewis said Britain had never before had difficulties recruiting soldiers, sailors and airmen, but
"recruitment will suffer, and suffer severely, unless we end the mischief of applying the civil law to the of war".
"Any country that allows its legal aid system to be used as a weapon against its own service personnel in this way has surely taken leave of its senses.
"Unless the Government urgently gets a grip, the same will happen to hundreds of veterans of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, decades after they came to an end; and this while amnestied terrorists - including mass murderers - freely walk the streets of Ulster."
Mr Lewis called for the Government to impose a time limit on bringing cases from before the 1998 Belfast Agreement
"to restore some semblance of justice and fairness to the process".
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'INQUIRY RISKS BEING NEW IRAQ - MP'
Daily Mail – 17 January 2017
The inquiry into actions of British troops in Northern Ireland will put them at risk of being hounded with false allegations like those against many Iraq veterans, a senior MP warned. Julian Lewis said those who served in the Troubles would face the same ordeal as soldiers who fell victim to bogus accusations after the Iraq War.
The chairman of the Commons defence committee said many claims investigated by the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (Ihat) were made by lawyers cashing in on legal aid and had been shown to be 'spurious'.
'Any country which allows its legal aid system to be used as a weapon against its own service personnel in this way has surely taken leave of its senses,'
Dr Lewis said in a speech at Speaker's House in London.
'Unless the Government urgently gets a grip, the same will happen to hundreds of veterans of the Troubles ... while amnestied terrorists freely walk the streets of Ulster.'
He said recruitment could suffer and called for a statute of limitations to stop prosecution of soldiers for events before the Good Friday agreement.