2010-2019 | Media propaganda | Northern Ireland

The Law should protect our crimes but not their’s

Gavin Williamson –
CC License – via Wikimedia

6 July 2018

On 6 July 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May slammed down Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s suggestion to give members of the IRA the same legal protection from prosecution that he proposed for members of the armed forces implicated in terror killings, intimidation, torture or other offences. Williamson had written secretly to the prime minister suggesting that she consider a ‘statute of limitations,’ to prevent British soldiers implicated in mistreatment or murder from being prosecuted. He claimed that British troops serving in Northern Ireland should ‘get the protection they deserve,’ adding ‘if this means a wider amnesty, so be it.’

The letter was leaked to The Sun, where extracts appeared on 6 July 2018, under the headline ‘Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson Backs Amnesty for IRA Terrorists.’ The tabloid cited critics furious over the implication that the crimes of the IRA might be forgiven, although the same commentators argued that investigations of the 302 killings by the British Army were wrong since they were traumatising ex-troops now in their 70s and 80s over alleged offences committed forty years ago.1 The paper had previously quoted former officers describing attempts to bring justice for the families of the victims of army killings, as a ‘witch-hunt’ and a ‘betrayal of our fighting men.’2

A spokesperson for Number 10 made it clear that any consideration for Williamson’s reluctant suggestion for an even handed approach was out of the question: ‘We cannot countenance a proposal where amnesties would be provided to terrorists.’ He was apparently referring only to their (IRA) terrorists and not our own – the large number of UDR soldiers guilty of appalling acts of terror and intimidation.3


  1. Harry Cole, ‘”So Be It”: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson backs amnesty for IRA terrorists in secret letter to the Prime Minister,’ The Sun Online https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/politics/6707021/gavin-williamson-ira-amnesty-letter/
  2. Mark Hodge, ‘Veterans Betrayed: Former army chiefs slam Northern Ireland “Witch-hunt” and demand amnesty for British soldiers caught up in Troubles,’ The Sun, 11 May 2018 accessed online at url https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6269086/former-army-chiefs-slam-northern-ireland-witch-hunt-and-demand-amnesty-for-british-soldiers-caught-up-in-troubles/
  3. ‘No Amnesty For IRA, says PM as Williamson Aims To End “Vendetta” Against Troops,’ The Daily Telegraph, 7 July 2018, p. 7.

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© 2019 Alisdare Hickson All rights reserved

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