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City MP calls for new MoD duty to support forces personnel

This week Stephen Morgan MP argued for a new MoD duty to support forces personnel who are subject to investigations or litigation after overseas operations.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister argued for the change in parliament this week, who wants to secure this change in the Overseas Operations Bill, to make the legislation better following widespread criticism.

Mr Morgan, commented,

“I’m proud to have led the opposition’s Bill committee team through this stage of the Overseas Operations Bill, and I am glad we have been able to raise this important issue at this stage.

“I believe it is vital that the MoD face up to its proper duty of care to our Armed Forces personnel and their families, and provide the support and guidance that they require when it is needed.

“Labour is working to build a constructive consensus on the changes needed so this Bill does more to protect British service personnel and less to protect the MoD.”

The Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP, also added,

“Personnel tied up in long-running investigations or legal action have told me they felt cast adrift by the MoD. I want to make the MoD face up to its proper duty of care to our Armed Forces personnel and their families”.

Expert witnesses giving evidence to the Commons committee on the Bill last week confirmed that troops and veterans who are accused of misconduct are given next to no legal or welfare support from the MoD throughout the investigations, which in some cases have taken years.

Hilary Meredith [Director of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, a legal firm that represents the forces] told MPs:

Parliament had an inquiry into what support they were given. Basically, there was none.”

Others also criticised the Bill for doing more to protect the MoD than service personnel, by placing a hard six-year block on civil claims from troops against the Ministry if they are injured overseas.

Royal British Legion Director General Charles Byrne confirmed his view of the Bill to MPs:

“I think it is protecting the MOD, rather than the service personnel”

Labour proposed today at committee a new ‘duty of care’ clause in the Bill which forces the MoD to set a new standard for legal and wellbeing support given to personnel and veterans under investigation or litigation. The clause requires the Defence Secretary to publish, every year, any failures to meet this standard and the action required to improve shortcomings.

Stephen Morgan MP has consistently committed to protecting and improving the welfare of service personnel, and has pledged to continue to do so through the final stages of the Bill and beyond.