UK Veterans ‘Disappointed’ With Government’s Northern Ireland Prosecutions Betrayal

Sympathisers hold a banner in support of motorcyclists riding in a protest against the Blo
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images

Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met with Paul Young and SAS hero Robin Horsfall, of the Northern Ireland Veterans Movement, on Wednesday, informing them the government was once again delaying legal immunity for veterans who served during the Troubles.

Editor’s note: The original headline of this article has been amended to better reflect the situation of British veterans of Operation Banner.  

In a video seen by Breitbart London following the event, a “disappointed” Horsfall and Young claim that Brandon Lewis — who called the meeting at the Northern Ireland Office in Whitehall — informed them that there would be further delays to legislation that would grant Northern Ireland veterans immunity from prosecution for alleged incidents from 1968-1998.

The veterans said that Lewis had made promises “last autumn,” that the legislation “should have been going through Parliament now to its final stages”, but currently still “hasn’t even started yet”.

Multiple elderly British veterans who served in Northern Ireland have faced prosecution due to alleged wrongdoing in the conflict, with the most prominent case being that of Dennis Hutchings, who died in Northern Ireland in October 2021 while on trial for an incident that supposedly happened decades ago in 1974, aged 80.

Former terrorists, on the other hand, are seldom if ever prosecuted, not least because some 187 fugitives linked to hundreds of killings were sent so-called “letters of comfort” or other communications by former prime minister Tony Blair telling them they were no longer wanted, and judges subsequently decided they could no longer be prosecuted as a result.

No such letters were ever sent to veterans who had fought for the British government, however, meaning they are still being pursued by the state into advanced old age.

Robin Horsfall — who was part of the SAS team who stormed the Iranian embassy in London when it was besieged by terrorists in 1980 — also stated that the veterans “weren’t happy with the fact this thing is getting kicked down the road yet again, we made it very clear we expect to see this paper come to parliament in the next few months. But we got no guarantees whether that’s going to happen”.

Horsfall did however maintain that he informed the minister that he’s like a “dog with a bone” and won’t “let go of it no matter what happens”, no matter “how long it takes”.

Young — a Blues and Royals veteran — also emphasised that while they had been promised future meetings to discuss the “intricacies” of the Bill, as far he is concerned Lewis is “no better than anybody else — promises are promises, we only deal with action”.

Young went on to suggest that any issues that have now arisen that could delay the bill should have been foreseen by the government and described their lack of preparedness as “negligent”.

The SAS veteran took the opportunity to chime in and highlight he had warned the Conservative minister that “there is a general election in two years’ time and we want to be able to go to the three million former servicemen in the United Kingdom and say that Boris Johnson kept his promises” — but insisted that he is also prepared to tell veterans “that Boris Johnson didn’t keep his promises to stop the vexation and prosecution of British soldiers from Northern Ireland”.

Horsfall has indicated there is an urgency to this amnesty bill as “ageing” veterans are “getting dragged through the courts” and “dying while this process is going on” and he “can’t see an end to it”.

“We hoped last year we would see an end to it by now, we haven’t,” Horsfall said.

Young — who also served for 23 years in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) — suggested that any delays are manufactured by the government, pointing out they can make legislation for Ukraine or coronavirus “overnight” yet are reluctant to do the same for Northern Ireland veterans, claiming it is a “complex issue”.

“It’s not a complex issue, it’s straightforward, protect your bloody veterans”, the veteran insisted. “And we again made the point that the terrorists have already got immunity from prosecution, they’re never going to be prosecuted, so fiddling about with the Irish and giving in to the [Irish] Republican agenda is nonsense. Protect your servicemen first”.

Ex-Grenadier Guardsman Roy Brinkley, who filmed the exchange and is a committee member for the Northern Ireland Veterans Movement, told Breitbart London that “we are very, very angry” and that veterans movements would be scrapping their former tactics of marches and rallies and will instead now be taking more “direct action” against the government “until we end the witch hunt against veterans”.

“We are fed up with hearing false promises from the government. Minister after minister after minister has promised to end the prosecutions but nothing has changed. We were promised last year and again now it’s been delayed,” Brinkley said.

“Our voice will be heard and listened to and we will counter the incessant Sinn Fein and IRA input that is coming from across the water and is demonising our veterans. The government is listening more to them than their own veterans,” he continued.

“The prosecutions of veterans have got to stop, people are dying — we’ve lost Dennis now. Dennis knew that this would kill him but he still carried on. How much longer can this go on for? The veterans of this country will now make a stand and will publicly out the government and Brandon Lewis over their betrayal,” Brinkley insisted.

The Northern Ireland Office failed to provide a statement on this matter after being contacted.


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