Thank you for contacting me about the Overseas Operations Act.
The Overseas Operations Act gives service personnel and veterans protections against vexatious claims and repeated investigations. As you are aware, there is a presumption against prosecution over allegations more than five years old. However, if there is new and compelling evidence and an exceptional case is brought forward then it can absolutely be pursued.
During this legislation's passage through Parliament, the Government tabled a series of amendments which specifically exclude offences related to torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide from the measures in Part 1. Although the legislation in its original form would not have prevented the prosecution of historical events where serious wrongdoing occurred, including in relation to the aforementioned list of offences, clearly concerns were raised about the need to be more specific.
It is vital that service personnel are held to the highest standards of behaviour and conduct. This Act ensures that credible allegations continue to be investigated and prosecuted where appropriate, but also that our Armed Forces are protected from the vexatious claims and repeated investigations that so many have suffered in recent years.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP