Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Statute of limitations for military prosecutions proposed

Newly appointed Secretary of State for Defence Penny Mordaunt aka Sub-lieutenant Mordaunt RNR has announced that she will legislate for a statute of limitations for alleged offences taking place outside the United Kingdom (except in exceptional circumstances). See here for details.

Ms Mordaunt said: "It is high time that we change the system and provide the right legal protections to make sure the decisions our service personnel take in the battlefield will not lead to repeated or unfair investigations down the line.

This announcement follows Conservative MP Johnny Mercer's decision to "go on strike" in protest over the prosecution of former service personnel. The prosecution of former service personnel remains a hot issue in the UK following the failed IHAT investigations and the following Al-Sweady Inquiry. However, Ms Mordaunt's announcement will not cover Northern Ireland, where a prosecution is underway for alleged offences during the 1970s. 

How this will work in practice is currently hard to see. How will 'exceptional circumstances' be decided without investigation? The devil will, as ever, be in the details.

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