Gavin Williamson

Defence Secretary To Propose 10-Year Limit On Prosecution Of Soldiers

Gavin Williamson

It has been reported that the Defence Secretary will propose legislation to protect the Military from historic charges in this year's Queen's speech.

This comes as four Army Veterans are expected to be charged with murder over the death of Bloody Sunday protesters in 1972.

Williamson has described cases against servicemen in the past as a "witch-hunt". and said that the case relating to Bloody Sunday "completely turns the stomach of the British people."

It is believed that the legislation will put in place three steps to protect soldiers and veterans:

  • There will be a presumption not to prosecute veterans if an offence took place more than 10 years ago.
  • A cabinet minister has to give his approval in order for a prosecution to proceed.
  • Advice from the attorney-general which clearly states the level of evidence required to bring forward a prosecution, as well as a test to check whether bringing the case forward is in the interest of the public. 

The Defence Secretary also said that the Bloody Sunday case highlights why the government needs to act:

"We can't be asking men and women to, without a second thought, go and serve their country and not be looking at everything we can to give them the protection they deserve.

"The Bloody Sunday case highlights the fact that this is something that has been needed to be done for far too long and we've started to look at how we can find these practical solutions to help service personnel - not just past conflicts - but also in future conflicts"

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