PLANS to protect British troops from tank-chasing lawyers will not put soldiers “above the law”, the Veterans Minister insists.
Johnny Mercer rejected claims by Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, former Armed Forces chief, that his Overseas Operations Bill would “let torturers off the hook”.
Lord Guthrie said: “These proposals appear to have been dreamt up by those who have seen too little of the world to understand why the rules of war matter.
“If we start down the slippery slope of arguing that rules apply to others, but not to ourselves, it is we who will suffer in the end.”
Mr Mercer said: “It’s not about an amnesty for troops but about protecting them from lawyers intent on rewriting history to line their own pockets.”
Defence Minister Ben Wallace said the government was honouring its promise “to protect service personnel and veterans from vexatious claims and endless investigations”.
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General Sir Nicholas Parker, former Commander Land Forces, and former Tory defence secretary Malcolm Rifkind said the law was “dangerous, harmful and ill-conceived”.
Shadow defence secretary John Healey warned the bill, due before MPs today, will block soldiers’ injury claims not lodged within a five-year limit.
He said: “It will block rightful claims from our own British troops when the MoD fails them. It's penny-pinching.”
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