In the latest episode of his "Unreliable Evidence" programme on Radio 4, Clive Anderson and guests discuss "the controversial suggestion that the UK should withdraw from human rights legislation and re-instate 'combat immunity' to protect the British Army from legal action." The programme is available at the link below:
This programme description is from the BBC:
The British Army may have stepped away from the battlefield, but it is still increasingly under major fire in the courts, where the Ministry of Defence has suffered a series of defeats. Since the landmark case of Smith v MOD in 2013, soldiers injured in battle or the families of those killed in action may sue the Government for negligence under domestic law and for breach of the "Right to Life" under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Arguing the case for combat immunity is Dr Jonathan Morgan, co-author of the think tank Policy Exchange's report Clearing the Fog of War which contends that the judiciary is the wrong body to hold the army to account. It says the extension of the common law of negligence to military action has already had damaging effects on the forces. The result will be an excessive degree of caution which is antithetical to the war-fighting ethos that is vital for success on the battlefield.
Arguing against Dr Morgan are barrister Jessica Simor QC, who acted for the appellants in Smith v Ministry of Defence, and retired Supreme Court judge Lord Hope, who presided in the case.
Also taking part is former Army Legal Service officer Andrew Buckham who now represents soldiers suing the military and the government.
Have court decisions which extend the reach of human rights law beyond the UK undermined the effectiveness of the military - and should it be parliament, not the judiciary, that holds the army to account?
Produced by Brian King
An Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4.