Veterans

Troubles veteran Dennis Hutchings allowed military funeral by MOD

The Ministry of Defence agreed to the family's formal request to allow the Life Guards to be pallbearers at the Remembrance Day service.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has agreed to provide pallbearers at the funeral of Northern Ireland veteran Dennis Hutchings.

The Troubles veteran died in Belfast after contracting COVID-19 while he was in the city to face trial on charges related to a fatal shooting in Co Tyrone in 1974.

He had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham and also denied a count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

There were originally no plans for regimental pallbearers at his funeral as the MOD does not provide them for retired service personnel unless there is a formal request.

Veterans, however, are entitled to a regimental trumpeter.

It is understood that Mr Hutchings' family lodged a formal request last Friday for members of his former regiment, the Life Guards, to attend.

An Army spokesman said: "Mr Hutchings served for many years with great dignity, diligence and courage.

"His passing is a personal tragedy for his family, regimental family and his friends, and we extend our sincere condolences to all that knew and cared for him.

"The Army was formally approached to provide a bearer party for the funeral on Friday; this request was actioned in line with policy."

The Army spokesman added: "As a mark of respect to Mr Hutchings his service and his family, the decision was made today by the Army to support the request.

"His former regiment will provide a bearer party and trumpeter at his funeral."

Details about the funeral of British Army veteran Dennis Hutchings were previously announced by Johnny Mercer, stating that "all are welcome".

Mr Mercer, a former Veterans Minister, had also posted on Twitter in response to the MOD's funeral decision simply saying: "Good news this morning."

The funeral service will take place for Mr Hutchings at St Andrew's Church in Plymouth on 11 November, which is also Remembrance Day.

The family will later hold a private event in Cornwall and have urged there is no political messaging.

Mr Hutchings' death prompted questions by unionist politicians over the decision to prosecute him almost 50 years later.

He had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham and also denied a count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Hutchings' solicitor, Philip Barden, said the veteran had wanted to clear his name.