Today, Wednesday 14 December, Johnny Mercer MP led the final evidence session into the inquiry he has chaired on MOD personnel subject to judicial processes.
Appearing before the committee were Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon MP, Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach GBE KCB ADC DL, Chief of Defence Staff and Peter Ryan, Director, Directorate of Judicial Engagement Policy.
In the session, which lasted just over an hour, committee members put the witnesses under a sustained barrage of questioning, highlighting disparities in written and oral evidence already provided to the committee and spoken in public. Persistently, Chairman, Mr Mercer, drew the witnesses back to the fact that the recognised errors in the process had a quantifiably horrendous effect on the lives of those caught up in the process.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Mercer, said:
“It is beyond me how people cannot see the effect on those who have been under investigation, potentially multiple times and for a sustained period lasting up to and over 10 years.
“I, like many of my former colleagues, will pride themselves on the integrity and professionalism with which they conducted themselves while on operations. As such, I believe they will be with me when I say that they want those who have committed crimes to be identified and punished accordingly.
“Yet this is not what things like IHAT are about. They target those who may not understand the seriousness of the situation, will not recognise how or where to get help and have a limited support system in place. It is not right and I am pleased we are starting to see repercussions for those who have abused this process.
“I will be drafting the end of inquiry report over the Christmas break and I know we will be looking to identify serious recommendations that need to be enacted post haste to stop a travesty like this happening again.”