Northern Ireland veterans will be granted exemptions from prosecution – as will Republican paramilitaries
Mr Lewis’s proposals for the Troubles prosecution will be controversial in some quarters as they would also prevent prosecutions of alleged crimes committed by members of the IRA and other paramilitary groups during the same period. However, writing in The Telegraph, Julian Lewis, the former Chairman of the Commons Defense Committee, said the proposals “must apply to all parties – our service personnel, police, loyalists and nationalists” .
He insists: “It doesn’t put offenders on the same level as law enforcement, nor does the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement and the sentencing law that followed it – limiting prison sentences resulting from the unrest – already doing it … It would be a clear and lucid assessment of where we really are. I believe this would give individuals and Northern Ireland society as a whole the best opportunity to come out of the past. “
The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service said in 2019 that of its 32 ‘legacy cases’ since 2012, 17 involved Republicans, eight loyalists and five the British military.
Mr Lewis said the “comprehensive investigative process” required to determine whether the evidence is new or compelling “shifts hardship from one place to another” and could still result in veterans appearing in court.
Mr Johnson has previously faced accusations of dragging his feet in dealing with lawsuits brought during the unrest times, after suggestions for a new bill surfaced in two successive Queen’s Speeches but never materialized in law.