Politics

Defence Secretary Rules Out Amnesty For Troubles Veterans

Ben Wallace says amnesty could open the doors to those that have committed a crime.

Ben Wallace at the National Memorial Arboretum for Operation Banner commemorations this week (Picture: MOD).

The Defence Secretary has dismissed the idea of giving all veterans amnesty for those involved in the Troubles in Northern Ireland because it could let people who have "broken the law" escape justice. 

Ben Wallace said: "If there has been someone who has actually broken the law and there's been real new evidence presented - then we can do something about it."

Speaking at a service marking 50 years since the start of Operation Banner at the National Memorial Arboretum, Mr Wallace said: 

"Every soldier I served with, we went and did the right thing and followed the law and protected people and that's what we uphold."

Operation Banner was the longest continuous military campaign in UK history

Watch: Mr Wallace speaks about historical investigations at 1.07

Mr Wallace, who is also a veteran of the 38-year campaign in Northern Ireland, said we needed to "protect our veterans and support them if they have to go to Northern Ireland":

"We've absolutely got to deal with the legacy issue."

Mr Wallace added that many veterans have been receiving letters and "knocks on the door in the middle of the night".

"Some of these guys are in their 70s and 80s," he said.

"I had a constituent the other day who was sent a letter by the Coroners Service of Northern Ireland.

"It didn't tell them their rights at all, didn't tell them they didn't have to actually respond or what was going to happen to their data," he added.

Whilst Mr Wallace does not want blanket amnesty for the veterans facing prosecutions, he has called for more to be done in the treatment of those facing investigations.