Ex-Army chief demands PM stops witch-hunt against NI veterans

‘Now is the time to act’: Former British Army chief General Lord Richard Dannatt demands Boris Johnson stops witch-hunt against Northern Ireland veterans facing trial for war crimes

  •  General Lord Richard Dannatt branded the prosecutions as ‘grossly unfair’ 
  • The ex-Army chief said the PM must keep his promise to support NI veterans
  • Boris Johnson revealed he would support the ex-soldiers last summer

A former army chief has called on Boris Johnson to stop prosecutions against British  soldiers serving in Northern Ireland 40 years ago. 

General Lord Richard Dannatt, who was Chief of the General Staff between 2006 to 2009, said the pursuit of the soldiers for Troubles-related war crimes without proper evidence is ‘grossly unfair’.

Last week, over 1,000 cases of war crimes against British soldiers serving in Iraq were dropped with General Dannatt demanding the same outcome for the soldiers currently facing prosecution charges from their time in Northern Ireland.

Former Chief of the General Staff for the British Army General Lord Richard Dannatt (pictured) has called for Boris Johnson to stop the unfair prosecutions of Army veterans who served in Northern Ireland

The PM (pictured) promised the end the witch-hunt of veterans linked with The Troubles cases nearly 40 years ago during his Tory leadership contest in 2019

In his Tory leadership contest in 2019, the Prime Minister pledged to end the unfair prosecutions of the Army veterans in Northern Ireland. 

And General Dannatt wrote in The Sun: ‘The Prime Minister has pledged to act — now is the time.’

One solider facing a nervous wait on his future in ex-Coporal Major Dennis Hutchings, 79, who is facing a trial for the 1974 attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham in Co Tyrone. 

There is no evidence being presented in Mr Hutchings’ case, which will also not have a jury. 

Speaking about Mr Hutchings’ current state of mind: General Dannatt added: ‘With no new evidence being presented, this 79-year-old veteran with end-stage renal failure must listen in by video-link while a single judge decides his case.

‘Families of the bereaved have the right to know what happened to their loved ones but not at the expense of stress and worry to 60 and 70-year-old former soldiers.

‘That offends natural justice and must stop.’ 

Overall, six elderly or seriously ill veterans, including Mr Hutchings, are awaiting trial in connection with the Troubles. 

The ex-Coporal an attempt to bring a High Court challenge on the grounds of discrimination against veterans rejected last week. 

General Dannatt said: ‘No one is above the law, and where credible allegations backed by evidence are made, against anyone, then charges must be laid, a case heard in court and a proper finding reached.

‘There are still unexplained deaths in Northern Ireland. But for investigations to focus unduly on former soldiers is grossly unfair.’

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