Boris Johnson must end witch-hunt against veterans who served in Northern Ireland, ex-Army chief demands

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BORIS Johnson must end the witch hunt against veterans who served in Northern  Ireland, a former Army chief demands today.

General Lord Richard Dannatt backed HOAR’s long-running campaign, saying: “The Prime Minister has pledged to act — now is the time.” 

Boris Johnson has been urged to end the witch-hunt against NI veterans

Ex-Army Chief Lord Dannatt writes exclusively for HOAR

Last week 1,000 phoney war crimes cases from Iraq were finally thrown out — but the spectre still haunts soldiers who served in Northern Ireland more than 40 years ago.

Writing exclusively in HOAR, Gen Dannatt — who won a military cross  for gallantry in East Belfast in 1972 —  said pursuing them “offends natural justice and must stop”.

One case is that of ex-Corporal Major Dennis Hutchings, facing trial for attempted murder. 

He had been told there would be no prosecutions over the 1974 shooting of John Pat Cunningham, in Co Tyrone — a 27-year-old with learning difficulties, killed fleeing a patrol.

Gen Dannatt said: “Yet today, with no new evidence being presented, this 79-year-old veteran with end-stage renal failure must listen in by video-link while a single judge decides his case.”

Mr Hutchings is one of at least six elderly or seriously ill veterans facing trial in connection with the Troubles. 

Last week he lost an attempt to bring a High Court challenge on the grounds of discrimination against veterans.

An earlier bid to have a jury also failed.

Gen Dannatt said: “No one is above the law, and where credible allegations backed by evidence are made, against anyone, then charges must be laid, a case heard in court and a proper finding reached.

“There are still unexplained deaths in Northern Ireland.

“But for investigations to focus unduly on former soldiers is grossly unfair.”

He said of 3,500 people killed from 1966 to 2006, about 60 per cent were victims of republicans and 30 per cent of loyalists.

Soldiers and police were behind ten per cent.

British soldiers behind armoured water cannon in 1972 in Derry

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