BORIS Johnson today backs The Sun’s Veterans Pledge — and has vowed to pass a new law to end unjust prosecutions of Northern Ireland troops.
No10 front-runner Mr Johnson also promised to appoint a Veterans Minister to his Cabinet. He said: “We need to end unfair trials of people who served Queen and country.”
It means our next PM will tackle head-on bitter injustices on our military heroes — as rival Jeremy Hunt is also on board.
The move will bring relief to up to 1,000 Northern Ireland vets who face fresh probes — as all 302 Army killings over a 35-year period are reinvestigated.
Mr Johnson said at his campaign HQ that the troops, many now in their 60s and 70s, were “following orders as members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces”.
He added: “We need to end unfair trials of people who served their Queen and country when no new evidence has been produced, and when the accusations have already been exhaustively questioned in court. We must protect people against unfair prosecutions. And I will.” His signing of the three-point Veterans Pledge commits him to:
- ENDING the scourge of vexatious historical investigations of Northern Ireland vets with legislation by the next election;
- FORMING an independent veterans department to coordinate help across Whitehall;
- FULFILLING a Tory promise to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant, ensuring veterans and families never face disadvantages because of their service.
I KNOW from experience some councils actively had nothing to do with ex-military, especially when it came to housing.
There are councils that have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. But to them, it’s just paper. It means nothing.
Yet when it becomes law, veterans can go to councils and say, ‘I need housing and it is what I deserve’.
This legislation will also mean veterans’ organisations can put pressure on councils to fulfil their legal and moral obligation. It is also madness that it has taken so long to rectify the scandal of prosecuting soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.
If the process carried on and servicemen and women were punished, it would affect the effectiveness of today’s Army.
It would alter the decision-making process and put people’s lives in danger.
- By Andy McNab
Tory MP and ex-Army officer Johnny Mercer, who helped devise it, said tonight: “This shows that good campaigns for a right and just cause can produce strategic change.” Mr Johnson called it “a brilliant idea”, adding: “I congratulate The Sun and Johnny Mercer.”
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt had pledged a law change to end prosecutions on overseas ops more than a decade old.
But troops who served in Northern Ireland are exempt after she lost a battle with No10.
WHAT BORIS WILL DO FOR HEROES
Tory leadership front-runner Mr Johnson tonight vowed to look at that again if he gets in.
He also promised to introduce the pledge’s call for a new Government department and minister for veterans. Mr Johnson said: “I totally support the principle of cross-Government work to secure world-class care and support for veterans.”
He added: “There will be a minister with particular responsibilities for veterans in Cabinet.”
Mr Johnson also vowed to finally enforce the Military Covenant – promised by the Tories in 2010 to protect forces’ personnel.
Nine years on, Mr Johnson, 55, said: “That seems extraordinary to me, and we will get it done.”
Mr Johnson revealed his debt to the forces was “incalculable” as he vowed to be a PM that would always back Britain’s military. He said:
“As Foreign Secretary, I’ve seen UK Armed Forces saving Nigerians from terrorism, helping deliver vital aid to hurricane-stricken communities in the Caribbean, help train the army of Kenya, help tackle the illegal wildlife trade and save vanishing species across the Earth, and protect our European friends in Estonia.
“When I was Mayor of London, the Army came to pull our chestnuts out of the fire when the G4S security guards mysteriously failed to turn up.
“Without their instant willingness to serve, we would not have put on the greatest Olympics and Paralympics. They are extraordinary.”
Support from celebs: 'We failed our brave too long'
TV STARS including Judge Rinder and Corrie’s Kym Marsh have come forward to back The Sun’s Never Forget Them campaign.
SAS: Who Dares Wins frontman Ant Middleton and Strictly pro dancer AJ Pritchard are also urging the Government to end injustices against our troops.
The Sun’s legal columnist Rob Rinder, 41, said: “Our Armed Forces risk their lives every day. They deserve our enduring gratitude and respect.
“The courage of our fighting men and women must be met with an unbreakable vow their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“We have failed the bravest amongst us for far too long. It is a matter of national disgrace that this country has no department for veterans affairs.”
He said we should “all be ashamed” when veterans do not give the support they deserve or end up jobless or homeless.
Dancer AJ, 24, said he is backing The Sun’s campaign to honour our troops to “make sure they are never forgotten”.
He added: “Risking your life for the country is no small feat so our government must take their wellbeing seriously and put measures in place to do so.
“Our troops literally allow us to live the life that we live today and that is something special.”
- By Benjy Potter
Law will stop treating them as terrorists
By Mike Ridley
CAMPAIGNERS and military top brass saluted The Sun’s campaign for giving hope to ex-service personnel.
Lord Dannatt, former head of the armed services, said: “I very much welcome the introduction of legislation to put a stop to the unreasonable hounding of vets who served in Northern Ireland.
“Soldiers got up in the morning to keep the peace — terrorists got up in the morning to maim and kill.”
Falklands hero Simon Weston said: “I am sure I am like many ex-squaddies. I will accept Mr Johnson’s pledge in the spirit it is given but we have seen election promises in the past.”
Simon, who was severely burnt when the ship Sir Galahad was attacked by Argentine bombers added: “I hope it doesn’t fall on stony ground. But if it is truly genuine, it is long overdue.”
Former Royal Navy Admiral Lord West said: “This will stop men and women who served our nation being hounded and treated like the terrorists who went out to deliberately kill.
“Our men did not go out with the aim of killing people.
“They went there to do their duty in the interests of our nation and we are treating them almost as it they are terrorists.
“Successive governments have not addressed the problem.”
RAF vet John Nichol, who was shot down and captured in the first Iraq War said: “I applaud The Sun for its campaign and I urge everyone to get behind it because for too long our veterans have fallen by the wayside.
“They have served their country, they have risked their lives, some have been badly injured, physically and mentally, and they need better. Better support, better care, better opportunities.
“The Sun’s campaign recognises the sacrifice of our veterans and what they have given to this great nation.”
James Spence, 53, from Earby, Lancs, served nine years with the Royal Artillery. He said: “Thank you for keeping our forces at the forefront of people’s minds. Keep up the good work.”
THE SUN SAYS: KEEP PLEDGE
THE arrival of a new Prime Minister heralds a new dawn for our veterans.
Boris has now joined Jeremy Hunt in signing our Veterans Pledge, committing to a series of moves that will ensure those who served our country are given the treatment they so clearly deserve.
Successive governments have done bits and pieces, but there has been precious little joined-up thinking.
Other well-intentioned pledges, like donating bankers’ rate-rigging fines to Armed Forces charities, haven’t been followed through properly.
That’s why our Pledge includes a commitment to put our military heroes at the heart of Government, with Cabinet-level commitment.
Now, of course, we expect whoever wins to deliver. There is a packed inbox awaiting the next occupant of No10, not least leaving the EU by October 31.
But those who put their lives on the line for us have waited long enough to be taken seriously in Whitehall, and delivering on these commitments is a Day One priority.
As memories of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to fade, it’s all too easy to forget about our Armed Forces.
We trust the next PM not to let that happen.
most read in politics
Graham Brocklesby, who served with the Royal Corps of Signals from 1982-88, said: “The Sun’s brilliant campaign really highlighted the need to improve the Armed Forces’ Covenant.”
Lorry driver Mike, 52, from Stockton-on-Tees added: “No one who served should ever be penalised and the witch hunt against veterans has to end.”
And Mike Dunne, 72, who served 12 years in the Royal Navy until 1974 said: “I get no help for being a former serviceman and hopefully the Sun’s Veteran’s Pledge will help change that.”
Tory leadership front-runner with The Sun’s Political Editor Tom Newton Dunn[/caption]
Boris has promised a minister for veterans and to finally enforce the Military Covenant if he becomes PM[/caption]
Top brass, politicians and celebrities have called for an end to the hounding of our heroes[/caption]
- GOT a news story? RING us on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org