2 Bob Seely debates involving the Northern Ireland Office

Wed 29th Jun 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee stage: Committee of the whole House Day 1 & Committee stage
Tue 9th Jul 2019
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Bob Seely Portrait Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) (Con)
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May I just check something? I am hoping that the Minister will be able to provide a positive confirmation. I have a constituent, a former serviceman, who was involved in an incident in 1980. He gave evidence then, and he gave evidence later in the decade. The matter was then closed. The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s historical investigations team then got back in contact with him in 2013 and 2018. My constituent feels that he has been hounded, despite the fact that he has been positively involved and engaged in any investigations process. So, for the many UK servicemen who are finding themselves unjustly, repeatedly and legally hounded—as they feel—which makes a parody of natural justice, what reassurance can the Minister give to my constituent and many others who are in the same boat?

Conor Burns Portrait Conor Burns
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I refer my hon. Friend to what I have said about the gratitude that this Government and the whole country feel towards those who served in Northern Ireland. There is no parity of esteem between what those who were upholding law and order and the Queen’s peace, or seeking to, in Northern Ireland did, and those who were waging a barbaric, evil, terrorist campaign against this country. Many of us on the Government Benches know colleagues who suffered grievously at the hands of those murderous thugs. I would say to my hon. Friend that if someone comes forward and engages in good faith with this body and gives an account of something that happened, and if the body accepts that, the person will be eligible for the immunity that this body can grant. The other thing I would say to him is that previous interactions with other bodies will transfer into this body, so someone who has already had a dialogue with different agencies will not be starting all over again.

Bob Seely Portrait Bob Seely
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My constituent has already had a dialogue and was told that the matter was closed, but the matter was then reopened even though he had already had that original dialogue. Does he then have to engage again, as an article of good faith, having already done so for many years, for something that happened 42 years ago?

Conor Burns Portrait Conor Burns
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If my hon. Friend’s constituent has previously engaged in those mechanisms and there is no live inquiry or investigation into him, he has no obligation. If he is not being investigated for anything and there is no threat of prosecution to him, he would not have to come forward to this body. He is living his life without blemish and hopefully enjoying a happy retirement, reflecting on his life of service to our United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill

Bob Seely Excerpts
3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Tuesday 9th July 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 9 July 2019 - (9 Jul 2019)
Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Lewis
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I am so grateful to the hon. Lady, and delighted that I gave way to her, because she has put that far better than I could.

What we are trying to come to here is a reasonable conclusion that would mean that, should compelling new evidence emerge—something that was overlooked and has now come to the fore, and that puts a completely different complexion on an allegation of a serious crime—indeed that would still be pursued, but where matters had been looked at previously, and where there was no compelling new evidence, a line should be drawn.

There is one more element that comes into this, which is the question whether such a qualified statute of limitations would conform to international law.

Bob Seely Portrait Mr Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) (Con)
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I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way, and I congratulate him and others on tabling the amendment. There are two issues here for me. First, on the point of fairness and equality, does he agree that it is deeply unfair that the state seems to be actively looking not to bring former terrorists to justice while actively looking to bring soldiers, who were there legally doing their job under the law, and protected by the law, to justice. Secondly—I talk to ex-service friends about this often—is he aware of the appalling signal it sends that the soldiers who were doing their job are not being protected by the law, either recently in Iraq or 20 or 30 years ago in Northern Ireland?

Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Lewis
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I thank my hon. Friend, who is an expert in these matters, for that perceptive observation. Certainly, on the differentiation between people who were lawfully armed, trying to preserve the peace and the good order of society, and those who went out unlawfully to try to disrupt that, I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks will address that very point in some depth, because it goes to the heart of his amendment.