Tory leadership candidates united on legal protection for troops

The Tory leadership candidates have united over the need for legal protection for troops.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have both backed calls for increased legal protection of UK troops and veterans.

The incoming prime minister must act urgently to protect UK troops, according to a new Policy Exchange report which says they are at risk from “unfair” legal processes.

Tory leadership race
Tory leadership race

The report, Protecting Those Who Serve, is published to coincide with Armed Forces Day on Saturday June 29 and aims to prevent veterans from prosecutions into Troubles-related deaths.

The report also aims to limit the extra-territorial reach of the Human Rights Act into past operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as future operations outside the UK, stating “political authorities should stand ready to resist judgments of the European Court of Human Rights”.

Mr Johnson welcomed the report and claimed some veterans had been “persecuted”.

He said: “I have long argued the way some service personnel and veterans have been persecuted in our judicial system turns the stomach.

“We must work harder to honour our commitment to those who’ve served our country.

“We also risk the credibility of our Armed Forces in the eyes of our allies – rendering ourselves vulnerable by permitting the growth of ‘lawfare’.”

Having grown up in a naval family, Mr Hunt said he knew personally how much is “owed to our service men and women” and said the report was “serious and welcome”.

“On this Armed Forces Day we’re reminded of the bravery and sacrifice of those who serve our country in uniform,” he said. “We owe it to our forces and veterans to resolve these issues with all possible speed.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt has also pledged to cut job taxes for those who serve in the armed forces, to fix the “national scandal” of veterans being twice as likely to be unemployed.

The plan would waive employer national insurance contributions on veterans for five years after they leave the services, to assist the 15,000 veterans leaving the forces each year in finding work.

Mr Hunt said: “It’s time to cut the job tax on veterans, giving more opportunities to our brave former servicemen and women.

“It’s good for business too: As an entrepreneur who grew up in a military family I know that military training is hugely useful in business.

“These are people who have gone through the toughest training programmes in the world, making them well equipped for a huge range of jobs, and we must do more to help them realise their potential.”