Northern Ireland

Attorney General floats new idea on NI Troubles cases

British soldier on patrol in NI
Image caption NI's top law official wants legacy allegations against veterans tested by a specialist judge.

A specialist judge should decide whether Troubles-related cases involving soldiers should be prosecuted, Northern Ireland's top law official has said.

Attorney General John Larkin QC made his remarks in London.

Mr Larkin has previously called for an end to all legacy prosecutions, provided it has wide political support.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer is due to table a bill next week around investigations into former soldiers.

Speaking at an event in Westminster on Thursday, Mr Larkin put forward a "certification" system, in which legacy allegations against veterans would be tested by a judge.

Quoted by The Times, he said: "If you had a case involving a soldier who was 19 at the time and took a decision in the heat of the moment, the judge could take a view on whether it was in the public interest to prosecute.

'This government is going to war on lawfare.'

"Cases that were granted a certificate would proceed, those that were not would be dismissed."

Meanwhile, Mr Mercer is bringing forward legislation next Wednesday addressing the government's pledge to end "vexatious" investigations of veterans in the absence of new evidence.

He hit out at lawyers "trying to rewrite history to make money" and said: "This government is going to war on lawfare."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted the government's commitment to former soldiers could be balanced with separate proposals to address broader legacy issues in Northern Ireland.

The Stormont House Agreement from 2014 - which promised a new, independent investigations body - has not been implemented.

The deal which restored devolution earlier this year pledged to bring forward legislation by April.

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