POLITICAL big guns are urging Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley to back a campaign calling for an end to the persecution of British troops who served in the Troubles.
Four former Northern Ireland secretaries are members of a cross-party group calling on the Staffordshire Moorlands MP to draw a line under the province’s past.
Former Republican terrorists responsible for murders and atrocities during the Troubles are immune from prosecution under Tony Blair’s Good Friday agreement, but British Army veterans have been pursued for alleged humanitarian crimes.
Cross-party politicians have added their support to a crusade by the Daily Express newspaper to get former British troops, who risked their lives during the conflict, to be given the same immunity from prosecution.
The signatories in a letter to Government urging action include Lord King, the Tory Northern Ireland Secretary from 1985 to 1989; Labour’s Lord Reid, who held the post from 200-01; and Lord Murphy (2002-05) and Lord Hain (2005-07).
The letter claims that of the 1,615 cases investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team just three have resulted in prosecutions.
Karen Bradley has said the government would not introduce a statute of limitations to prevent the prosecution of British soldiers.
She claims such a move is “not legally possible without extending it to terrorists.”
The introduction of limitations is also opposed by the DUP on the grounds it could also be applied to IRA terrorists.
However, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged to look at “all options.”