Boris Johnson should 'knock heads together', says Mark Francois

Boris Johnson should ‘knock heads together’ to push through law to save Northern Ireland veterans from threat of prosecution, says Mark Francois

  • Mark Francois addressed Commons during reading of the Armed Forces Bill
  • Said absence of even draft legislation added to ‘burning injustice’ felt by soldiers
  • Last week was revealed another 12 veterans facing charges related to Troubles shootings

Boris Johnson should ‘knock heads together in Whitehall’ to bring in promised legislation to protect veterans who served in Northern Ireland from ‘unfair prosecutions’, MPs were told yesterday.

Former Armed Forces minister Mark Francois said the absence of even draft legislation added to the ‘burning injustice’ felt by soldiers.

Addressing the Commons during a reading of the Armed Forces Bill, the Tory MP said it did little to help veterans who served in Northern Ireland, many of whom have the ‘sword of Damocles still hanging over them’.

Mark Francois said the absence of even draft legislation added to the ‘burning injustice’ felt by soldiers during a reading of the Armed Forces Bill

Last week, the Daily Mail revealed another 12 veterans are facing charges related to Troubles shootings. They could follow six already charged. 

However yesterday it emerged that the Police Service of Northern Ireland has no ‘live’ investigations into the murders of hundreds of British soldiers killed by IRA terrorists.

Pointing out that Mr Johnson promised to pass new legislation on Northern Ireland 18 months ago, Mr Francois said: ‘The Prime Minister urgently needs to knock heads together in Whitehall in order to get this critical legislation on to the statute book.

‘Unlike some others, our service veterans have no letters of comfort while the Northern Ireland Office – whose Bill this is supposed to be – continues to endlessly drag their feet for fear of upsetting Sinn Fein.’

The Tory MP pointed out that Boris Johnson promised to pass new legislation on Northern Ireland 18 months ago

He added: ‘We want actions now, not words.’

Great-grandfather Dennis Hutchings, 79, a former soldier in the Life Guards, faces trial in later this year for attempted murder in relation to a shooting in Northern Ireland in 1974.

He has previously been cleared twice over the incident. Last night he said: ‘The Prime Minister promised to fix this and nothing has happened since.

‘I am very pleased the issue is being raised in the Commons. I just hope something happens because it is never-ending.’

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