Examination of Witness

Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee on 8th October 2020.

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Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Chris Parker gave evidence.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 2:30 pm, 8th October 2020

Q209 We will now hear from Colonel Chris Parker, chair of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Association, who is joining us remotely. We have until 3.15 pm for this session. Welcome, Colonel Parker. Will you please introduce yourself formally for the record?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

My name is Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Chris Parker. I am the chairman of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Association and I am an infantry veteran of nine combat and operational tours.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

Thank you. We will move straight to questions. I call the Minister.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Q Chris, good afternoon. Thank you for coming along. Your regiment has been through this process a number of times. Can you outline why the legislation we are considering today is necessary? The PWRR has had a pretty on-the-coalface experience of repeat investigations over many years. I have two questions for you. Can you outline the effect of legislation such as that which we are considering today, and what it will mean to those who have served on operations?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

The effect of the legislation on people would be to remove quite a large amount of pain and misery, which I have experienced not only with individuals but with their families. We must remember that when people’s lives go on hold for several years due to investigations, whether they are right or wrong, that can have a very damaging effect on families and individuals. This legislation certainly will remove most of that pain and misery, which I have witnessed, as many have.

From our regiment’s point of view, few things have been harder for our men—our infantry are primarily male—who are often from the most vulnerable places in our society and often very tough backgrounds, who do their bit and then find that they are exposed. This legislation is broadly going to remove that risk and pain—in broad terms. I know you might want to talk about the smaller aspects.

In terms of the effects on operations, I can only speak from a subjective point of view about the impact on me, but also on all the people I speak to. There is an increasing concern among very young junior commanders—I have been one of them on operations, where you have to make decisions. Going forwards, without this sort of legislation, there is the increased risk to life of people not being able to take decisions, as I had to, such as: do you bring in a precision airstrike or not and take 10 lives with some risk of collateral damage on the spot, to save lives, without some form of legal concern, because you are doing the right thing and you are following drills?

I think your Bill’s effect on operations will be to remove a large amount of that concern. I think that is probably the bigger professional concern—that it would cost more British lives because people would be hesitant.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Q I think that there is a temptation in this place to let the perfect be the enemy of the good in a lot of the legislation that we pass. Of course, legislation is not going to be all things to all men, but within the art of what is possible—I have asked everybody this question—what would you do to improve the Bill? There are things that people want to do. For example, they want to separate classes of claimants, so that the six-year limitation on human rights claims is unlimited for armed forces personnel but limited for those we go against. That is not legal under European human rights law. We heard that from the British Legion this morning. There are plenty of ideas coming forward that are not possible. What, within the art of what is possible, would you do to improve the Bill?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

That is a difficult question, because of the stretch of my understanding of what is and is not legally possible. If I may add value in this way, I think there is a concern about the six-year time limit. There is a perception—maybe it is my misunderstanding —that the six-year time limit would apply to service personnel themselves bringing claims against the armed forces, or against people. Is that correct?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Q That is correct. What I was saying is that we cannot differentiate between different classes of claimants. That is illegal under European human rights law. If you are going to draw a line to stop people bringing European human rights cases against this country, it has to apply to anyone. The calculation that is then made is where to draw the line. Given that 94% of those claims came before that, and that the six years will give a better level of evidence and people will be helped going through the process—the whole thing in the round—that is why the six years were taken. But what would you do to improve that?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

I think there has to be some form of recognition and qualification that the major concern—I see it as a volunteer—is that we are getting close to 100 cases, in a body of about 5,000 people, of severe mental distress, and those are rising by the week, primarily out of Afghanistan. On the timeline of those cases appearing—we are in the category of post-traumatic stress disorder in about 90% of cases—we are talking about 10 years.

Bear in mind that there are proven facts that the bell curve of PTSD cases is 28 years. My own personal experiences was 24 years after the event, out of the blue, and then being treated for it. If cases were to be brought—and I think it is quite reasonable to allow soldiers, sailors and airmen to bring cases for mental duress that could have been caused by a mistake, an error or incorrect equipment, or some form of claim—to put a six-year time limit does not help. It may help legal reasons for other purposes, but it certainly does not help the mental duress, because the facts and evidence point to a 28-year bell curve, with 14 years therefore being the mean.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Q Of course, and that that is why we have built in there that it is the point of knowledge, rather than when the incident took place. Therefore, if you had PTSD 24 years later, your six-year clock would start from that 24-year point.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

Understood. It is great to hear that clarification.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

You can understand the problem that the military community have. It is hard enough for someone like me, as a master’s graduate, to understand it, but also trying to get this understood by a large body of quite unqualified people who fought bravely is difficult enough.

The only other qualification that I would add is to do not with the question that you have directly asked but with a broader question, which you may want to touch on later. It is very difficult to separate, in the view of the veteran, operations from one theatre and operations from another theatre. Obviously, you probably know straight away that I am referring to Northern Ireland. I understand, and we understand, that it is not part of this Bill, but I think there has to be a measure by the Government to say—and I think they have—that other measures will be taken ahead to deal with that. That is something that I know is a concern, and it is something that is of prime concern.

Broadly—I have to say this broadly because, again, we have to remember that we do not get people scrutinising the Bill itself; they hear the broad terms of it—it is welcomed by the community and there is no major feedback of negativity other than the points we have registered about claims, which you have clarified very helpfully.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Labour, South Shields

Good afternoon, colonel. Just a quick question from me. How could the Ministry of Defence better exercise its duty towards soldiers who are accused of crimesQ ?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

The problem came, in a lot of our cases—certainly with some of the earlier ones with the Iraq Historic Allegations Team and others—that, because it was done in a very legal and correct fashion, sometimes we can forget that the care is needed, because they still are people. It was often very difficult for people to get facts and information about what was likely happening. I would say that we have come quite a long way with that. We have an independent ombudsman and others. Personally I think that has been a huge step forward, and I met Nicola the other day. We must remember that we have to think about whether there is a resource capability gap or not, to allow some form of funded or additional care for the families, and also potentially for people’s loss of earnings and loss of promotion.

One of the biggest fears and concerns that people had is that their career was on hold and their career was affected. Like it or not, that comes down to the financial burden that people feel they have suffered unduly. I can think of several cases where it is pretty hard to explain why certain people were not promoted for a few years when these investigations were going on. Obviously, it was a difficult position for everyone.

There are two things there: a broad duty of care with some resourcing for the impact on families and the individuals themselves, whether that is more information or some sort of independent helpline. Perhaps it could be done through a body such as the ombudsman or something in addition to that. Secondly, it is the ability to explain and understand those pieces.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Labour, South Shields

Q Is there anything in the Bill that improves the duty of care?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

I have not found it because I think it is a softer thing—it is beyond the Bill. It is something that the MOD would have to bring in. It is a chain of command issue. It is very difficult for people. The chain of command is uniquely allied to the same thing as the duty of care chain, because it is the officers, and therefore there has to be perhaps support outside of the chain of command: somebody to care, outside the direct chain of command, for those individuals. People have made the best effort to get by, but we have a unique problem where the officer chain of command, the line between [Inaudible] and courts martial, cannot be compromised, and therefore other people have to be involved.

Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

Sorry for the delay, Chris: I have to stand up because there are not enough microphones for social distancing. Thank you for everything you have done and for your service. It is hard to hear what you have been through. You said that you have 5,000 members in the association. When did the association hear that there was going to be a Bill to protect servicemen and veterans? What was their initial responseQ ?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

Thank you very much. The 5,000 I referred to are our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. They were a large regiment. You can see the numbers because the throughput is quite large and significant, and that is just in one regiment. We have about 20,000 in total, including right down to the oldest. Some of them are second world war veterans.

In terms of when we first heard, I have to be honest that I cannot recall a date or time, but we are informed through our regimental headquarters, which is a very small Ministry of Defence-funded element. It is very small. It has been cut right down to the bare basics now. They inform us of those things, but you must remember that the association people like me are volunteers, and for us to spend time trawling through things and looking at emails to with things can be difficult, so we get prompts and help, and then they provide, effectively, a staff capability. When we heard through them, which was very helpful, the initial reaction—we serve using social media platforms, with groups of several thousand of our veterans, and those are quite active, to care for people—and the mood was very positive. It was seen as a weeping sore in the minds of many that they had done their service and they would not be looked after. We know that the Government put this in the manifesto late last year, and it came into being very soon after the general election in late 2019. It was welcomed, but it was not a political point for the veterans; it was more about the Government doing something to address what they had seen as an injustice. Their feelings were certainly very positive.

Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

Q Based on your contacts—those 5,000 to 20,000 veterans—what would the veteran community feel now if this Bill were stopped?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

I do not think they would understand why. We must remember that among the base we address, look after and care for, the understanding of things like how the machinery of government works is quite low. They just see a very clear sense of right and wrong, partly because we instilled it in them. They have that very simple view of life, so I think there would be acute distress. There would certainly be an increase in mental duress, and I think that for those people who hover around the distressed level, rather than getting into specific, incident-related PTSD—we deal with a lot of those—there would be a lot of hands being thrown up in the air. Allied with the current conditions, which obviously include the environmental factors of covid, separation and people being isolated, I would see that as a very big risk. However, the country seems to be behind this, and certainly the veteran body is. It seems to be something that is apolitical at the moment, notwithstanding the need for good scrutiny.

Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

That is brilliant. Those are all my questions. Thank you very much.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q Hi, Chris. In terms of the cases you have dealt with, we have already heard from other witnesses that the real issue is the length of time these investigations take. We took evidence on Tuesday from Major Campbell—frankly, the way that individual has been treated is disgraceful. This Bill does not cover investigations, and I wonder whether you think there should be some way in which investigations could be speeded up, or a way to prevent people from being reinvestigated for the same thing on several occasions, which certainly happened in Major Campbell’s case.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

That is a very fair point, and it is an excellent question, because the time has been a big factor. I am not aware of any way in which military law should be seen to be rushed along or pushed along. However, I think this comes back to the duty of care. I know there is provision in the Bill for certain time restrictions, so if there were a time restriction on an investigation, unless there was a good reason to extend it, that might be something that would allow a positive factor of, “Yes, there is some definite evidence brewing here.” That could be positive.

We are talking about several years in which people are on hold. That was certainly the case for people involved in the Danny Boy incident in al-Amarah, with the public inquiry and the many cases to do with that particular incident, which was a real travesty. That affected some people for eight or nine years, so that was quite a long wait, and of course some of those people were already in distress because of the very tough fighting in that incident.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q I agree with you on that, but the Bill does not stop potential prosecutions by the International Criminal Court. The problem with this legislation as it is drafted is that it includes a presumption not to prosecute even before investigation, which seems very odd. The Minister is looking bemused, but it is actually in the Bill. Are you not concerned that if we are not seen to investigate these things to a certain level, we could end up with individuals being placed before the International Criminal Court? That is certainly something I would not want to see.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

That is a good question, because it is something I have heard from chats on veteran social media and other discussions. You must remember that our face-to-face contact with our people has been limited from the summer onwards, but in a lot of the discussions that happen on this, sometimes weekly, there is without a doubt greater fear of a non-British legal action coming against people than of anything British. Even though soldiers, sailors and airmen might grumble about the prosecutions, I think they would all, to a man and woman, admit that British justice would be the preferable place to go to every time. There have been many times when people have been investigated but then there has been no case to answer and justice has been seen to be done—there has been no prosecution, and certainly no conviction, in the majority of cases—so I would agree with you.

Again, we must remember that I, let alone the body of the kirk, if you like—the association members—would not understand the nuances of what might cause an International Criminal Court action. If there seemed to be a risk of that, it would need to be closed on behalf of the veterans, who would see that as a far greater risk to themselves than facing British justice. I think that is a fair question to ask.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q Can I turn to the issues around investigations? You talk about the duty of care and the chain of command—I know it well, and how it works sometimes and does not work at other times. Do you think there should be an obligation on the Ministry of Defence to provide legal assistance to individuals who are being investigated or are accused of crimes?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

When I was involved in a public inquiry—it was the Baha Mousa public inquiry—there were five separate teams of lawyers and barristers, of which two were consulting me as a person giving evidence, not in any accusatory sense, but for contextual evidence. I was amazed by how much effort and money was going into that. The accepted norm is that a lot of people are left to their own devices and are not able to access the same level or scale of funded assistance when they are accused by military investigations such as IHAT and others.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q I raise that because if you were in civilian life and were accused of something in line with your employment, you could go, for example, to a trade union, which would provide you with legal assistance. We have not got that for individual soldiers. I am just thinking about trying to level the playing field, in the sense that members of the armed forces should at least have some recourse to legal assistance. As you say, the other side could perhaps spend a fortune on very expensive barristers and others. Leaving it to associations such as you and others to provide legal support that is a bit hit and miss, isn’t it? I know that some associations do.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

It is, and I understand that. As an association, we have our own private funds and we raise funds. We have had need to use them, and we have a regimental advocate or lawyer who helps us, often on a gratis arrangement. But that is a poor reflection on the way it should be.

I agree with you. If this can add any context, after my 17 years of service and a lot of frontline tours, often the biggest point of failure that caused the most damage was when there was a point of failure in the chain of command. If a commanding officer or a senior officer—a major or a brigadier perhaps—was the person causing the problem, they are also in the discipline chain, so the whole thing grinds to a halt and becomes an impasse. That is a very difficult situation.

The second-order question is: why do we not have a Police Federation equivalent or a trade union? I have seen a number of failures—not a large number, but it has happened—in the chain of command by officers behaving improperly, and that says to me that the only way you can stop that sort of thing affecting the people beneath them is by having, if not a trade union or federation, then an independent place to go. Personally, I think we have that with the independent Service Complaints Ombudsman, which is available as a pressure release valve. The good work that has been done to bring that in, although that small body is not widely known at the moment, has removed some of the risk.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q That is one of the things I argued very strongly for when we did the Deepcut inquiry—it came out of that in the early 2000s. The problem with the ombudsman is that he or she can only look backwards. What I am trying to get to is that people need legal support and so on in these cases when they are going through it. I will come on to the ombudsman in a minute, because you raised another issue with it earlier.

I am trying to think whether there is a mechanism we could get for those accused. I accept the point that you make about the chain of command, but I am trying to understand whether there is anything we can do to even up the playing field, in terms of ensuring that people are not left on their own? Most people do not have access to independent funds, and most people have perhaps never been involved with the law before, so when they are it is obviously quite a daunting experience. If we could come up with some system that actually allowed recourse to legal support, would that be something that you would support?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

Yes, I would, but I would qualify that support. As a veteran leader, I constantly tell our people that they must not consider themselves to be a special case when there are also blue light services and other people who are equally well deserving and who also sometimes face legal complaints.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q But they are slightly different, in the sense that they have recourse to, for example, in the ambulance service, a trade union, or the Police Federation.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

Correct. I understand why you ask that question. It is something, certainly for the veteran part of it, that I have proposed. I am in discussion with our excellent friend the Minister about innovative ideas such as having an inspector for veterans, like the inspector for prisons. Beyond that, there could possibly be someone who would be an independent body. Wherever that independent body sits, it cannot sit in the MOD. That is the problem—it must not sit there; it should sit outside.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

May I turn to Sarah Atherton. If there is time, I will come back to you.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Can I just ask one question about the ombudsman?

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

I don’t mind, Mr Stringer.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

Okay. Just one. There might be time for further questions, because only Sarah is indicating that she would like to ask one at the moment.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q The ombudsman can look backwards. We heard Major Campbell the other day; even though he had been completely exonerated, there was no ability to investigate why he was treated the way he was. Do you think it would help those individuals who have gone through very poor service—in his case, it was 17 years of hell, by the sound of it—to have recourse to the ombudsman to have that investigated, to at least get some answers as to why things were actually happening?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

I would say a strong yes, because in all the incidents I have seen where it has gone wrong, if the individual concerned knew that there was some way that an independent person would be able to investigate them, they may have been less likely to think that they could get away with it; it is often individuals acting fully in the knowledge of what they are doing because they can get away with it. Personally, based on my experience, I would say yes to that.

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

Q Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, the Tigers, was caught up in the battle of Danny Boy. As an association representative, can you give the Committee a sense of what the soldiers and families went through during those vexatious claims? There have been high-profile cases of Brian Wood and Scott Hoolin, whom I assume you know all about. Can you give us a sense of what they went through during these vexatious investigations?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

I will, and if it helps you, I would prefer to answer that in the broadest terms, rather than focusing on individual cases, to avoid causing them any further distress. Obviously, a lot of the things we talk about are very confidential, and a lot of them are very tearful.

With that incident and the aftermath, once it started to break out that there was going to be some sort of investigations, and the manner of those investigations, there was certainly a feeling of horror and almost terror that swept through people, because they realised, “When will this stop?” It was a particularly brutal engagement, and it was cited, as the Committee probably knows, as being along the lines of second world war bayonet fighting-type engagement—incredible bravery but also incredible stress. One of the individuals I know—a large, strong, tough individual—was in tears in my arms, explaining that he had enough to deal with coping with having had to kill several people, and now he would have to deal with the fact that he might be court martialled for it. He just could not understand it.

We have to remember, again, that the individuals concerned are not people who are able to sit and pick through legal documents, nor understand them. Whether we ask the most vulnerable or tough people in our society to go forward and do these extremely tough and brave point-of-the-spear jobs, such as combat roles, we must remember that we have a duty of care to protect them from anything—intellectual or otherwise—that might affect them later in their distress.

In answer to your question about the families, that whole inquiry, and certainly that incident, were the largest single point of family distress that I have witnessed in my entire military service or veteran chairmanship of five years. That amount of distress was not only for those who were being prosecuted, but for their spouses, partners, mothers, fathers, others, and children in some cases—those who knew that the veteran had been involved not only in that incident but in others—because there was immediate presumption that there would soon be a knock on the door or a letter popping through the door for some sort of summons, so the stress levels, the distress and the impact snowballed to quite a large level. It was very hard to put a lid on that stress because that is what happened: letters did start to arrive and people did get knocks on the door, so it became a very distressing time.

Photo of Sarah Atherton Sarah Atherton Conservative, Wrexham

Q Thank you for talking in general terms. How would the Bill have changed their experiences?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

There are two parts to that. First, we would have at least had something to be able to say back, “No, no. There is protection here.” Whether it was a six-year limit or inside that is, of course, a different point. At least there would have been something there to say that.

We must remember that in parliamentary terms, it can be easy to understand it as a Bill about legal process. In the veterans sense, it is much more simple than that. It is simply understood as: the people, the public, the nation, does not want to do this to people who have stood on the wall and had to fight for freedom. They do feel that a Bill like this would allow those of us who are able to soothe and reassure to say as a result, “It’s okay. The country does care; Parliament does care.” Therefore, every effort is being made, which is why we admire what you are trying to do to close the gaps that have allowed those things to happen.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

I cut you off Kevan. Do you have another question?

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q I have, but I just want to pick up on that point. The Bill would not stop the agony that you have just talked about, because in the five or six-year period, you would still be investigated. Is the root of this not that if accusations are made, they should be investigated and dealt with speedily and efficiently and, frankly, thrown out? That is what is missing from the Bill. A time-limit can be put on it, but six years is a long time for a family to go through that, as you have described. We cannot put ourselves in those people’s shoes; for anybody accused of something that they have not done, it must be awful.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

I agree with you, but I propose that in the whole of defence—let alone the MOD, lawyers, investigators, military police investigators —everyone went through a learning process. That was an unprecedented time. Now, everything—the procedures, the understanding, the channels of complaint, the channels of the chain of command acting to look after people, the care for families—has improved, so we must be careful not to look at those past incidents when we were going through extreme learning pains with the existing legislation, but think about how we might cope not only with new legislation, but with the great leaps forward and lessons that have been learned about investigative timescale and accuracy, and the ability and the need for statements to be taken after patrols and suchlike.

Those things sound very easy. Sometimes they are difficult out in the dust and the heat, with the extreme exhaustion that goes on out there. We are in a much better place; I genuinely offer that from a very lucky perspective, because I can speak without any official man here, but I get the chance to speak to everyone who is in officialdom, as well as the soldiers from my regiment and their families.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q Can I now turn to part 2 of the Bill? I accept that you and others have perhaps not read the Bill line by line, but part 2 would put a six-year limit on section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980, which means that veterans will not be able to bring claims outside that time limit. As one witness explained the other day, that would mean that prisoners would have more rights than members of the armed forces. That cannot be right, can it?

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

No, but it would not be the first time. We are in a gradual process as a country, and we must not be too hard on ourselves. We are closing gaps and are doing the best we can, but nothing will be done in a week or two. Everyone is pretty realistic—you will not get a bunch of people who are more realistic than military veterans about how long things take. There might be some concerns about the six-year rule, but I am sure people would welcome being part of that discussion. I can certainly help that process by getting my people to be part of that discussion, survey or whatever it might be, to get the feeling about whether this would be something that could sit happily with them. This process alone—my being here—is part of that. The six-year part, and the potential that other parts of society could be better off, is still countered by the fact that I have never met a military person who feels that we should be outside the law and that we should not obey the agreed principles.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

Q But what this is doing is putting veterans at disadvantage by comparison with what I or you can do as a civilian, in terms of taking a case outside the Limitation Act 1980. It does not sit comfortably with me that veterans should not have the same rights as everybody else. It is possibly one of those things that we get in legislation sometimes—an unintended consequence. Personally, I think it should be taken out of the Bill, because it will limit the ability of veterans to bring civil claims outside those time limits. Knowing the MOD lawyers as I do, they will use it as an excuse for why claims should be discontinued.

Lieutenant Colonel Parker:

Understood, and I partially agree with you. Again, I would say that most people would be surprised, as would I, that no mechanism could be thought of to allow someone after the six years, if they felt that there was a strong enough case and it was sound in British justice, to bring a claim via appeal, the High Court or whatever it might be, to a judge, and that would be allowed to be waived. I am not a legal expert, but I would have thought that would be the situation if there was a particularly compelling case. I cannot think of any.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham

It is there already in section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980. The Bill is carving veterans out of it, which I certainly do not agree with at all.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

If there are no more questions, may I thank you, Colonel Parker, for your valuable evidence this afternoon? I am sure the Committee will find it useful and informative when we come to discuss the Bill on a line-by-line basis.