Amendment 6

Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 4:44 pm on 13th April 2021.

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Lord Thomas of Gresford:

Moved by Lord Thomas of Gresford

6: After Clause 7, insert the following new Clause—“Investigation of allegations related to overseas operations(1) In deciding whether to commence criminal proceedings for allegations against a member of Her Majesty’s Forces arising out of overseas operations, the relevant prosecutor must take into account whether the investigation has been timely and comprehensively conducted.(2) Where an investigator of allegations arising out of overseas operations is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of criminal conduct to continue the investigation, the investigator must within 21 days refer the investigation to the Service Prosecuting Authority with any initial findings and accompanying case papers.(3) An investigation may not proceed after the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which the allegation was first reported without the reference required in subsection (2). (4) On receiving a referral under subsection (2), the Service Prosecuting Authority must either—(a) order the investigation to cease if it considers it unlikely that charges will be brought, or(b) give appropriate advice and directions to the investigator about avenues of inquiry to pursue and not pursue, including—(i) possible defendants to consider,(ii) possible explanations to consider for the circumstances giving rise to the investigation, and(iii) overseas inquiries and seeking the help of overseas jurisdictions.(5) Where the investigation proceeds, the Service Prosecuting Authority must monitor and review its progress at intervals of three months and must on each review make a decision in the terms set out in subsection (4).(6) On the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator must send a final report with accompanying case papers to the Service Prosecuting Authority for the consideration of criminal proceedings.(7) After receipt of the final report, the facts and circumstances of the allegations may not be further investigated or reinvestigated without the direction of the Director of Service Prosecutions acting on the ground that there is new compelling evidence or information which might—(a) materially affect the previous decision, and(b) lead to a charge being made.(8) The Judge Advocate General may give Practice Directions as he or she deems appropriate for the investigation of allegations arising out of overseas operations.(9) For the purposes of this section—“investigator” means a member of the service police or a civil police force;“case papers” includes summaries of interviews or other accounts given by the suspect, previous convictions and disciplinary record, available witness statements, scenes of crime photographs, CCTV recordings, medical and forensic science reports.”

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Liberal Democrat Shadow Attorney General

My Lords, the Minister’s response to Amendment 6—on the necessity of monitoring investigations to ensure that they are timely, effective and not continuously repeated—was to defend the status quo when the current system has manifestly not prevented delays, shoddy investigations and reinvestigations casting a shadow over serving members of the Armed Forces and veterans. I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 308, Noes 249.

Division number 2 Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill - Report — Amendment 6

Aye: 308 Members of the House of Lords

No: 249 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Division conducted remotely on Amendment 6

Amendment 6 agreed.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 4:58 pm, 13th April 2021

We now come to the group beginning with Amendment 7. Anyone wishing to press this or anything else in this group to a Division must make that clear in debate.

Clause 8: Restrictions on time limits to bring actions: England and Wales