Government 'ends cycle of re-investigations' in bid to tackle Northern Ireland's troubled past

18 March 2020, 08:40

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis leaves Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on March 17
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis leaves Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on March 17. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The Government has pledged to "end the cycle of re-investigations" into British soldiers in Northern Ireland to protect them from “vexatious claims.”

In a set of proposals to deal with the country’s troubled past, the Government said once cases have been considered, there will be a legal bar on any future investigation occurring.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said ending repeated re-investigations, where there is no new compelling evidence, will deliver on his Government's promise to protect former soldiers from "vexatious claims".

The proposals come after the Government promised to deliver a way forward on legacy matters within 100 days of the New Decade New Approach deal.

They include a pledge to ensure that Northern Ireland veterans receive equal treatment to their counterparts who served overseas.

The proposals also include a "new independent body" to provide information to families and "swift examinations" of all unresolved deaths from the Troubles.

Only cases where there is "new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution" will be investigated in the proposals.

The bill would introduce a five-year cut-off point from the date of an incident unless there are "exceptional" circumstances, meaning it would be in the interests of justice to prosecute.

New prosecutions would also need the consent of the Attorney General before they can proceed.

If passed, it would further require the court to consider the operational context of an incident when deciding whether to extend the normal time limits for bringing civil claims for injury or death.

This requirement would also extend to claims brought under the Human Rights Act in connection with overseas operations.

There would also be an absolute limit of six years from the date of the incident for bringing civil claims of personal injury or death or Human Rights Act claims in connection with overseas operations.

The law would also compel future governments to consider opting out of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to significant overseas military operations to avoid claims being brought under the act.

The package also proposed a central resource to be created to share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles.

Mr Lewis said victims have been at the heart of the government approach to "help the region move on to a brighter future".

"I hope that by giving as many families as possible information on how their loved ones lost their lives, we can help ease the difficult process of reconciliation," he said.

"We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our Armed Forces for their service in Northern Ireland.

"That's why these proposals also put an end to repeated re-investigations where there is no new compelling evidence and deliver on our promise to protect veterans from vexatious claims."

The Government will now begin engagement with the Northern Ireland political parties, and the Irish government, to discuss the proposals in detail.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Hot weather has hit the UK

Exact date 35C 'pulses' from Europe to boost UK's sweltering heatwave, as temperatures soar

Lord Robertson said it is "total nonsense" that the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Nigel Farage is 'cuddling up to the Kremlin', says ex-Nato boss amid claims West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Sir Keir Starmer has told a headteacher that her private school should ‘work to ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’.

Private schools must ‘ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’, Starmer tells headteacher amid plans for tax raid

Exclusive
Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall both committed murders while on probation

One person a week killed by criminal on probation, as ex-Victims Commissioner slams failure to protect public's safety

Tom Hilton said internet sleuths should 'show some respect'

'Show some respect': Teenager wounded in machete attack by Jay Slater gang tells internet sleuths 'to help find him'

Live
Cleverly and Cooper face off on immigration.

General Election LIVE: Cleverly and Cooper to face off on immigration, Met says its not source of election bet leaks

Rishi Sunak Holds Campaign Event In London

Metropolitan Police denies 'leaking names' of Conservatives suspected of betting on election date

Assange was released from Belmarsh Prison in London on Monday

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves UK after being freed in US plea deal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reached a plea deal.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to US after reaching plea deal

Princess Anne is reportedly unable to remember what happened due to the nature of the injury.

Princess Anne ‘unable to recall exactly what happened’ after being ‘hit by horse’ as she faces several days in hospital

England have qualified for the last 16 at Euro 2024.

England qualify for last 16 at Euro 2024 after Spain beat Albania

Rishi Sunak criticised Labour's proposed plans to tackle migration rates in the UK.

UK would be ‘illegal migration capital of world’ under Labour, Sunak says as he sets out plans to ‘stop the boats’

Labour has made cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' should the party come to power

Labour makes cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' as Starmer proposes new child criminal exploitation offence

Spanish police are investigating if Jay's 'background' is relevant to the disappearance.

Spanish police searching for Jay Slater investigate if teenager’s background is ‘relevant’ to his disappearance

Lord Kinnock has said he would not wish being part of the current Tory government on his 'most bloodthirsty enemies'.

‘I wish I was fighting this lot’, ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock says as he brands current Tory party 'superficial'

The president of Finland has said he 'doesn't agree with many things' Nigel Farage says in response to his comments on the war in Ukraine.

'Absolutely not': Finland's president dismisses Nigel Farage’s claim that Nato provoked Russia's war in Ukraine