Tony Blair: Probes into armed forces war crimes allegations should never have been started
Tony Blair has spoken out against the Government's investigations into possible war crimes committed by British soldiers, arguing the process should never have begun.
More than 2,000 probes into personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are ongoing through a special police unit set up by the Ministry of Defence.
But former prime minister Mr Blair, who ordered the military action in both countries, roundly condemned the inquiries.
"I do not think this process should ever have been put in place,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.
"I am very sorry that our soldiers and their families have been put through this ordeal.”
He added: “Our Armed Forces gave extraordinary service in both Iraq and Afghanistan and this type of investigation simply makes their job harder to do.”
One allegation concerns a Taliban bombmaker who argues his 106-day detention was illegal, according to reports.
Elsewhere, a former soldier accused Defence Secretary Michael Fallon of “gagging” personnel by stopping them from giving evidence to MPs.
According to the Sunday Times, three serving soldiers hoped to tell the Defence Select Committee they were hounded by investigators over the allegations.
But in an email to Tory MP Johnny Mercer, one said: “I have been gagged by the SoS [Secretary of State] from giving evidence to the committee.”
This week Prime Minister Theresa May said the legal system must not be abused over the allegations of misconduct by British troops.
She told defence chiefs she was determined to stop “vexatious” claims being brought against armed forces personnel.
An MoD spokesman said it was right to investigate “credible claims of criminal behaviour”, adding:
“We’ve seen our legal system abused to falsely impugn our Armed Forces and we are putting an end to that.”