MP COLUMN: Protecting our Armed Forces
In the House of Commons last week, I spoke in favour of the Overseas Operations Bill which is a very important piece of legislation that reaffirms the Government’s commitment to provide life-long support to military personnel.
The Bill is intended to correct a grave injustice by stopping the endless cycle of vexatious claims over historic allegations abroad. Our Armed Forces will receive greater protection from lawyers such as Phil Shiner, who was eventually struck off for misconduct, but only after blighting the lives of so many innocent and courageous veterans.
The proposed legislation will create a new ‘triple lock’ in order to give service personnel and veterans greater certainty that the unique pressures placed on them during overseas operations will be taken into account when prosecution decisions are made concerning alleged historical offences. This includes a requirement to obtain the consent of the Attorney General before a prosecution can be made.
The triple lock is made up of a presumption against prosecution in respect of alleged offences committed on overseas military operations more than five years ago, and decisions to bring proceedings in such cases will be exceptional.
When we send our brave men and women overseas to serve the interests of our country, they rightly expect us to have their backs. The Bill demonstrates that the Government is listening to the concerns of our veterans and serving personnel.
Labour refused to back the Bill and showed that only the Conservatives can be trusted to protect our Armed Forces.
Ian Levy, Blyth Valley MP