Stop the discrimination against British army veterans

by Dennis Hutchings

Stop the discrimination against British army veterans

by Dennis Hutchings
Dennis Hutchings
Case Owner
My name is Dennis Hutchings. I served in the British Army for 26 years. Now I'm being prosecuted for a crime I did not commit because of discrimination against British veterans in Northern Ireland.
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Dennis Hutchings
Case Owner
My name is Dennis Hutchings. I served in the British Army for 26 years. Now I'm being prosecuted for a crime I did not commit because of discrimination against British veterans in Northern Ireland.
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Latest: Oct. 19, 2021

Update

Yesterday we received the deeply sad news that Dennis Hutchings passed away yesterday after contracting COVID-19 during his criminal trial in Belfast.

We, Dennis’ lawyers, are currently taking s…

Read more

Who am I?

My name is Dennis Hutchings.  I served in the British Army for 26 years.  

I was posted to Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the early 1970’s and I did several tours there. I did my duty as did many others. Now we are the subject of repeat investigations and prosecutions. 

My story 

On 15 June 1974 John Patrick Cunningham was shot and killed in NI. This was a tragic incident. I did not shoot Mr Cunningham. 

I was arrested at the time and after an investigation told in writing that the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed that I would not be prosecuted. In 2011 the Historic Enquires Unit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) cold-case reviewed this matter and again I was told no action would be taken against me. 

Then, out of the blue, on 21 April 2015 I was arrested at my home in England by police officers from Northern Ireland and taken the same day to Belfast where I was held for four days and interviewed on numerous occasions; more times, I’m told than Harold Shipman, believed to be history’s most prolific serial killer. I was then charged with Attempted Murder. I have been fighting this case ever since.

When I was arrested the then Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland was Bara McGrory, who previously had represented Martin McGuinness at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and is stated on the Internet to have acted for Gerry Adams. Mr McGrory signed a certificate denying me a jury trial and I am to stand trial beginning on Monday 4 October.  

I am not guilty of this or any crime. I dutifully served my country, am innocent, 80-years-old, suffer from ill health and, along with other veterans am the subject of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Why we need your help

There is evidence that myself and another five veterans who have faced or continue to face prosecutions are the subject of discriminatory treatment by the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.  

While terrorists have been granted effective amnesties from prosecution, British Army veterans have been targeted in disproportionate numbers to be brought before the courts. 

I am taking the following action to ensure what is happening to me does not happen to any of the other thousands of British Army veterans who served their country to protect the public from terrorism and civil unrest during the Troubles.

I have been advised by my legal team that the Government’s ongoing failure to protect veterans from unjust prosecutions in Northern Ireland is a possible breach of the Human Rights Act and should be challenged in the courts.

Please donate what you can to my campaign - every little helps - and share this page with friends and family on social media, and by email or WhatsApp.

Discrimination against veterans

During the Troubles, around 3,500 people were killed and very many more injured. Statistics show that 90% of the deaths were caused by terrorists (60% by Republican paramilitaries and 30% by Loyalist paramilitaries).  The number of state killings (by police and soldiers) stands at less than 10%.  It is incontrovertible that all paramilitary killings were criminal, while the state killings – with a handful of exceptions – were lawful.

I believe that anyone who commits an unlawful killing should face justice.  However, despite being responsible for around 2200 deaths, during the Troubles, all of which were unlawful, only a handful of IRA terrorists have been prosecuted since the Northern Ireland peace agreement in 1998.  

Disproportionately, six British soldiers, including me, have faced or continue to face prosecution.  In fact, research indicates that veterans are 54x more likely to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland than IRA terrorists.  These number don’t add up and it is clear that veterans are being subject to discriminatory treatment.

This imbalance is due in the large part to a secret administrative programme which was run by the British Government between 2000 and 2014.  Because of it, at least 187 Republicans who feared prison for suspected terrorist offences received effective amnesties from prosecution under the now infamous ‘on-the-run’ scheme. As a veteran, I don’t want an amnesty, not least because I’ve done nothing wrong.  I just want fair treatment.

What can we do

A lot of you have already supported me by donating to help me pay my legal fees for a Judicial Review application at the Administrative Court.  If my application had been successful, the Court would have made a declaration that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland acted unlawfully in failing, despite government promises, to give British veterans legal protection from vexatious prosecutions.  This would have forced the government to introduce legislation that prevents discriminatory treatment against veterans who served in Northern Ireland.

On 3 June 2020 the Administrative Court refused my application.  I appealed to the Court of Appeal on 10 June 2020.  My appeal was also refused.  This was despite eye-witness testimony from Former Veterans Minister, Johnny Mercer, who testified to the Court of Appeal that the government had, in fact, unequivocally promised to introduce protections for Northern Ireland veterans, and it was because UKG had repeatedly broken that promise that he had resigned in April 2021.

Despite no one being more knowledgeable or involved in the matter than Mr. Mercer, who personally witnessed the facts and events to which he testified, the Court of Appeal dismissed his evidence as mere opinion; this has left me with no option but to take my case to Strasbourg.

The government made clear statements that they would introduce legislation to protect veterans who served in Northern Ireland from being unfairly discriminated against.  Nothing has been forthcoming.  My criminal trial commences on Monday and I am facing a charge of attempted murder.  A crime I categorically did not commit.  All a price I am now having to pay for risking my life to serve this country. 

But there is still hope. 

I have brought my case to the Strasbourg court.  It is an international court for human rights.  They will consider my application and, if successful, they will declare that the UK Government has acted discriminately against me and infringed my human rights.

Perhaps, finally, the government will be pushed to keep their promises and start to treat British veterans with the respect that they deserve.

How you can help

I need to raise funds to cover the current and future costs of making my application to Strasbourg.  Every penny donated will go towards the funding of the progression of my case.  

Your money will help to protect the rights of men and women who risked their lives to serve this country.

I am represented by solicitors McCue Jury & Partners LLP and barrister Dr. Austen Morgan who was counsel to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the IRA ‘On-The-Runs’ scandal.  I am represented in the criminal proceedings by Devonshires Solicitors LLP in England and MTB Solicitors in Belfast.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support.  I simply could not continue this fight for justice without you.

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Update 1

Dennis Hutchings

Oct. 19, 2021

Update

Yesterday we received the deeply sad news that Dennis Hutchings passed away yesterday after contracting COVID-19 during his criminal trial in Belfast.

We, Dennis’ lawyers, are currently taking stock of this information and discussing as a team the best way forwards.  We know that Dennis believed wholeheartedly in his application to the Strasbourg Court and standing up for the rights of all British veterans in his struggle to achieve fair and equal treatment for veterans.  For the moment, we are simply reflecting on the loss of Dennis and our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time. Dennis was an honourable and principled man who deserved much better – he will be missed.

We will be back in touch with a further update in due course.  On Dennis’ behalf, thank you so much for the support you have given.  It meant a great deal to him.

With best wishes,

Dennis’ legal team

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