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Mayor urges backing for MP over Northern Ireland veterans' trials

PUBLISHED: 15:01 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 09 May 2019

Johnny Mercer, MP, who says he has withdrawn his support for Theresa May and her government over the historical prosecution of servicemen and women. Picture: UK PARLIAMENT

Johnny Mercer, MP, who says he has withdrawn his support for Theresa May and her government over the historical prosecution of servicemen and women. Picture: UK PARLIAMENT

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He's the Tory MP who has decided to 'go on strike' and refuse to back the government on any issue except Brexit.

Dereham mayor Hilary Bushell, who is backing MP Johnny Mercer's stance. Picture: DEREHAM TOWN COUNCILDereham mayor Hilary Bushell, who is backing MP Johnny Mercer's stance. Picture: DEREHAM TOWN COUNCIL

And now a Norfolk mayor wants her town to back the member for Plymouth Moor View, Johnny Mercer, over his stance on protecting armed forces veterans from prosecution.

Mr Mercer, 37, has called on Theresa May to prevent veterans being prosecuted for historic crimes in Northern Ireland.

Hilary Bushell, Dereham's mayor, said in a statement ahead of next Tuesday's council meeting: "I have long felt that these so-called legacy cases where soldiers actions are investigated many decades after events took place is abhorrent and unjust, these men and women risked their lives for us, we owe them a considerable debt.

"Nobody is above the law but if servicemen and women have broken the law then this should be investigated immediately. Investigating these allegations decades after the event, when public attitudes have changed and when the politics has changed is totally unjust."

The Armed Forces Day flag. Dereham Town Council will consider flying the flag every day until the Government changes its position on allowing veterans to face prosecution over allegations of crimes from the Troubles. Picture: Ian BurtThe Armed Forces Day flag. Dereham Town Council will consider flying the flag every day until the Government changes its position on allowing veterans to face prosecution over allegations of crimes from the Troubles. Picture: Ian Burt

Miss Bushell said the council should show the town's support for Mr Mercer's actions by flying the Armed Forces Day flag until the Government has brought forward legislation to protect veterans from being prosecuted after historical allegations.

She said: "I hope my fellow councillors will support my proposal I would also urge every council in the country with a flag pole to show their support.

"I would also urge people to email their MP urge them to give this matter their support."

Six former soldiers are facing trials over their involvement in Troubles-era killings, but not all the charges are murder.

Mr Mercer wrote to the prime minister, saying he could not: "support your legislative programme any further until your government make some clear and concrete steps to end this abhorrent process.

"The macabre spectacle of elderly veterans being dragged back to Northern Ireland to face those who seek to re-fight that conflict through other means, without any protection from a government who sent them almost 50 years ago, is too much."

Mr Mercer, himself a former British Army officer who served three tours in Afghanistan, has been an MP since 2015.

The town council meeting will take place at Dereham's Assembly Rooms from 7.30pm.

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