Richard Benyon MP, former soldier and until recently a member of the Defence Select Committee, has hit out at the news that veterans who served in Northern Ireland, many of them now in their 70s and 80s, are to be contacted about fatal shootings during the Troubles.
The MoD has confirmed that Northern Ireland’s Attorney General has been reviewing these deaths and that possible witnesses, including former members of the Armed Forces, may receive letters from the Defence Inquest Unit asking if they recall any details about particular incidents.
Richard immediately tweeted his disapproval urging anyone in his Newbury constituency to contact him straight away if they receive one of these letters. He said, ‘I served in Northern Ireland and I know from my experience and from talking to other veterans just how stressful this sort of witch hunt has been over the past few years. I am horrified that former soldiers may now be contacted in this way – especially after all our Armed Forces have been through with the spurious claims of abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘Veterans will be wondering when this will end. Over 300,000 British soldiers served in Northern Ireland and almost 1,500 lost their lives. As has been reported, it does seem that these inquests are focussing on deaths at the hands of British security forces which were responsible for around 10% of the more than 3,500 killings in the Province.’