Troubles veterans convicted of crimes relating could be pardoned

Troubles veterans convicted of crimes relating to Northern Ireland shootings could be pardoned, former minister Johnny Mercer says

  • Mr Mercer Government ‘failed’ in its promise to former Northern Ireland troops 
  • Part of him ‘died’ when senior figures were looking to reduce convicts’ sentences
  • Soldiers A and C face trial accused of murdering an  official IRA commander 

Northern Ireland veterans convicted of crimes relating to Troubles shootings could be pardoned under plans being considered by the Government, sacked former minister Johnny Mercer has revealed.

In an explosive interview with the Mail, Mr Mercer said a part of him ‘died’ when he discovered two weeks ago that senior figures are looking at powers to ‘reduce sentences or grant mercy’ to convicted veterans.

He reiterated the sentiment expressed in his resignation letter last week that the Government has ‘failed’ in its promise to former troops who served in Northern Ireland.

Mr Mercer said a part of him ‘died’ when he discovered two weeks ago that senior figures are looking at powers to ‘reduce sentences or grant mercy’ to convicted veterans

Hundreds of ex-servicemen fear being hauled to court for incidents dating back up to 50 years. Many were investigated at the time, only for cases to be reopened by ‘legacy’ units of the Police Service of Northern Ireland

Two ex-paratroopers, known as Soldiers A and C, face trial in Belfast today accused of the murder of official IRA commander Joe McCann in 1972.

It is the first prosecution of British soldiers in relation to Troubles shootings since the Good Friday Agreement.

Hundreds of ex-servicemen fear being hauled to court for incidents dating back up to 50 years. Many were investigated at the time, only for cases to be reopened by ‘legacy’ units of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which is examining all 3,000-plus deaths. The use of royal pardons for those convicted of criminal offences is often reserved for exceptional or historical cases, such as codebreaker Alan Turing.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: ‘The Government has been clear it will bring forward legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles which focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims and ends the cycle of investigations.’

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