The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into British law by the Human Rights Act, brought in shortly after Labour won the 1997 general election. Court judgments in recent years have made military personnel subject to the legislation, even on the battlefield. An industry has grown up, with lawyers being paid by British taxpayers to lodge compensation claims, many of them false or inflated. The government now intends to suspend measures contained in the Human Rights Act for any future international conflict.
Mr Turner commented:
“This will put an end to ambulance-chasing lawyers pursuing spurious claims at the expense of British taxpayers. For example, there has already been more than £100m spent on Iraq-related investigations, inquiries and compensation. It is madness – common sense dictates that the usual way of life flies out the window in the heat of war. That money would be better spent supporting our troops on the front line; not chasing them through the courts, sometimes years after the alleged events.
“I’m delighted with this announcement, which shows that there is the will to carry through such decisions at the heart of government. We will ignore the howls of outrage from those who care more about rights than responsibilities or who’ve made a fortune from vexations claims and stand up for our armed forces. Our troops put their lives on the line; they are the best in the world with a reputation to match. Of course individuals should be held to account for wrongdoing, but that should be under the rules of war, not legislation made for those of us sitting safe and sound back at home. It is just a great pity this cannot be retrospective.”