Jeremy Corbyn backs war crime probes into British soldiers

Posted On: 
25th September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted allegations of war crimes against British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan must be investigated.

Jeremy Corbyn says war crimes claims against British troops must be investigated
Credit: 
BBC

The Labour leader also hinted that he would like to see the UK spend less on defence, and said he was opposed to calls for MI6 to have its budget increased to help improve the way it deals with terror threats.

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.

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair today became the latest high-profile figure to say the probes should be dropped amid claims they are being led by "ambulance chasing" lawyers.

Theresa May has also made clear she will oppose any "vexatious" claims against British troops.

Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning, Mr Corbyn was asked if he would follow suit.

He said: "I have spoken to a number of soldiers that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq and I recognise the awful conditions that they were asked to serve under, and the difficulties they had with that.

"But I do think there has to be a recognition that we have signed up for international law on the behaviour of troops. America is going through the same experience, as do other European countries even though they’re not signed up to the International Criminal Court. So I think there has to be investigations. Saying never to prosecute I think would be a step too far."

Britain has signed up to the Nato commitment to spend 2% of its GDP on defence.

Asked if he thought it should he higher or lower, Mr Corbyn said: "I don’t think it should be any higher. I think it should be efficiently used, but I also think the defence budget should also be used where necessary so that Britain is very good at actually giving aid and comfort during emergencies. Look at what we did during the Ebola crisis and other things."

"I think the issues are of cyber security, the issues are of terrorism and security that goes with that and random attacks. That is not the same thing necessarily as having huge land-based defence forces. I do think you have to look at what security is about, but you have to look at it in the terms also of the political objectives you face or deal with, all around the world to try to bring about political solutions to what look like intractable problems.

"We’ve been through a period of putting a lot of money and a lot of troops in a very dangerous place and we’ve lost a lot of troops as a result of that. I think we need to reflect on that.”

Mr Corbyn said increasing the size of MI6 was not "particularly necessary".

He added: "I think there has to be obviously security for everybody, but I’m unclear as to why they want to be so much bigger.”