Last week I was so pleased to hear an investigation found against the firm ‘Public Interest Lawyers’ and they are going out of business. This law firm is one of those responsible for bringing cases against UK troops who served in the Iraq War, seeking compensation for alleged ill treatment of the Iraqi people during the conflict.
Whilst I understand the Iraq War is a very contentious issue and, as we saw from the Chilcot Inquiry, there are serious concerns about the process which took us into war, I believe we as a nation should always stand up for and respect those who serve in any of our Armed Forces and fight under the UK banner. Britain has a strict Code of Conduct, rigidly enforced, which the vast majority of our troops comply with and those that do not are disciplined.
After an 18 month investigation into this law firm by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), which is responsible for the funding of civil and criminal cases, it found they had breached contracts and also concluded the boss had possibly accepted illegal payments to pursue legal proceedings against servicemen and women.
We made a promise in our 2015 election manifesto to tackle these dubious claims, and the LAA withdrawing funding shows we are getting on with doing just that. The stress and anxiety these claims have caused to our service personnel and their families has been completely needless and has added to the unhappiness of families who grieve for loved ones who did not come home and were accused.
I believe we must always support our Armed Forces through thick and thin. Since becoming the Member of Parliament in 2010 I have tried to do whatever I can to help ex-servicemen and women whether it’s been local or national campaigns or through casework.
I am also pleased that since we first came into Government in 2010 we have spent more money on making sure our Armed Forces have the equipment and resources they need in order to keep them safe and be battle ready. We have also achieved NATO’s Defence requirement, in tough budget times, to spend a minimum 2% of our GDP on our Defence. Indeed we are one of only five Members of the 28 NATO allies who do this, the others being Poland, U.S., Greece and Estonia.
The decline and hopefully the eventual end of legal action from firms against those who serve to protect us is to be applauded. I welcome the fact one of these firms is no longer in business and going forward will support every effort to ensure any company acting illegally is similarly taken to task, our brave troops deserve nothing less.
(This article was originally written for the Burton Mail).