Senior Tory backs statute of limitations

Posted By: June 05, 2018

Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast.Monday, June 4, 2018

Tobias Ellwood MP has said he would have liked to have seen a statute of limitations for veterans included in the current legacy consultation.
Britain’s Conservative defense minister and who is a former British army officer has said he does not “want someone knocking” on his door in connection with his time on duty in the north during the Troubles.

Tobias Ellwood said the consultation on legacy should have included a statute of limitations that would have prevented further investigation of former soldiers for historic offenses.

The statute, which experts have said would be legally questionable, was not contained in the consultation despite support from a number of Tory MPs.

The consultation, which includes setting up a new Historical Investigations Unit, was launched last month and closes on September 10.

The idea of a statute of limitations was first proposed by the Westminster defense committee but has been opposed by Sinn Féin, with DUP leader Arlene Foster also expressing reservations given any such amnesty could be extended to former paramilitaries.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, Mr. Ellwood said he “knocked over a few milk bottles” during his time in Northern Ireland.

While he did not go into detail, he added: “I don’t want somebody knocking on my door, I don’t want anybody knocking, asking for any members of my platoon that I served with, to ask questions of something that happened so many years ago.”

British army veterans have already staged protests calling for an end to prosecutions of veterans who served during the Troubles.

Commenting on a statute of limitations for former members of the military he said: “There’s a consultation, I personally would like to see this considered – but it’s not for me to make that judgment.

“It does make sense to draw the line at some point to say that investigations have taken place to their conclusion and unless there’s compelling evidence put forward to a very high court… we then close the books on that particular matter.

“However, there is a consultation taking place, these arguments I think will be put into that consultation and I hope common sense will then prevail.”

“At the moment you are hearing of the historic allegations team, this Northern Ireland operation, knocking on doors of people who are now in their eighties asking for questions.

“That cannot be how we should look after our veterans,” he said.