Suspend the human rights act so British troops can fight terrorists without fear of ambulance chasing lawyers, says defence secretary
By IMOGEN CALDERWOOD FOR MAILONLINE
- Michael Fallon said the fear of being sued is stopping troops in their duties
- Brought 2,000 cases against MoD following wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Ministers are preparing to withdraw from the European human rights act
- But Lib Dem leader dismissed claim as the 'worst kind of jingoist rubbish'
British troops are being hindered in their fight against terrorists by the fear that enemy fighters could sue them for breaching human rights, according to the Defence Secretary.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon warned that troops are being left unable to do their duty, and condemned the ‘ambulance chasing British law firms’ who bring the compensation claims.
The Ministry of Defence has faced more than 2,000 legal claims from enemy fighters who were captured or injured in action overseas, or the relatives of those killed.
Ministers are preparing plans to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) following claims that it places soldiers at risk of court action.
Mr Fallon said there was ‘a strong case’ for terminating the European human rights law when sending forces into action overseas.
‘We don’t need these ambulance-chasing British law firms,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘It is not only extremely expensive but it inhibits the operational effectiveness of our troops because they start to worry about whether they will end up in a court or not.’
After months of build-up, this is the clearest sign so far that ministers would be prepared to abandon the convention in action.
The government would replace the European convention with a British Bill of Rights, which Mr Fallon said he hoped could be in place as soon as possible.
‘I would like to see [the Bill of Rights] soon because some of these court rulings are beginning to affect the effectiveness of British troops,’ he said.
But Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron dismissed the Defence Secretary’s comments as the ‘worst kind of jingoist rubbish’.
‘Our soldiers are currently fighting extremism to protect values like freedom, democracy and civil liberties – the very human rights that others seek to extinguish,’ he said.
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