Troops are to get new protection to prevent them from being tried for murder

Soldiers will get new protection against being tried for murder on the battlefield, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt pledges today.

The minister is looking at ways the crime could be reduced to manslaughter in certain circumstances.

Miss Mordaunt also promises greater legal protection to military personnel facing allegations of offences committed abroad more than ten years ago.

The proposals came as MPs demanded that ministers should legislate to end the 'witch-hunt' of forces veterans.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt talking to army troops, during Armed Forces Day celebrations at the Hudson's Field in Salisbury

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt talking to army troops, during Armed Forces Day celebrations at the Hudson's Field in Salisbury

The Commons defence committee said a 'resolute and determined' Government would bring in a statute of limitations to protect troops from endless vexatious investigations.

Writing for the Mail today, Miss Mordaunt says protecting veterans is a 'personal priority' as she pledges to crack down on thousands of 'bogus, fabricated or poorly evidenced allegations'.

She said: 'Veterans and serving personnel alike have been hounded by processes often not motivated by the pursuit of justice. Fixing this intolerable situation is one of my personal priorities. The measures proposed in our 12-week consultation would give greater legal protection to current or former personnel facing allegations of offences committed on duty abroad more than ten years ago.'

She added that she would consider extending the policy to Northern Ireland.

Miss Mordaunt's pledge comes six years after Sergeant Alexander Blackman, known as 'Marine A' at his court martial, was jailed for life for shooting a dying Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan. Following a Daily Mail campaign, he was freed after his conviction for murder was reduced to manslaughter. It is understood the proposed new law would not have applied to his case.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman was arrested for war crimes after an incident in Afghanistan in 2011

Sergeant Alexander Blackman was arrested for war crimes after an incident in Afghanistan in 2011

MPs on the defence select committee said while criminality should be punished, cycles of re-investigations risk damaging the morale of the armed forces and trust in the rule of law.

And they called for the Human Rights Act to be amended to make it harder to use its provisions to take veterans to court.

Committee member and Tory MP Johnny Mercer, a former soldier, said: 'The time for successive secretaries of state to put this issue in the 'too difficult' box has officially passed.

'I and others fully expect the next prime minister to end this ridiculous charade and legislate to prevent abuses of the legal system by those who seek to rewrite history.'

'They had our backs - we must have theirs': Defence Secretary PENNY MORDAUNT on her proposals to provide military veterans with stronger legal safeguards

In a few months' time we will remember the extraordinary bravery of British forces in the Battle of Arnhem seventy-five years ago. Just as we did in the recent D-Day remembrance, we treasure those very elderly veterans, who fought for our nation and the values it stands for. There is nothing that we wouldn't do for them.

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