Stop the discrimination against British army veterans

by The family of Dennis Hutchings

Stop the discrimination against British army veterans

by The family of Dennis Hutchings
The family of Dennis Hutchings
Case Owner
We are the family of Dennis Hutchings, a British army veteran who served in the British Army for 26 years.
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The family of Dennis Hutchings
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We are the family of Dennis Hutchings, a British army veteran who served in the British Army for 26 years.
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Latest: May 13, 2022

The government’s latest promise

Dear Supporters, 

We’re writing to update you following Tuesday’s announcement during the Queen’s Speech.

You may have heard during the speech that the government are intending t…

Read more

Figures show that British Army veterans who served in Northern Ireland are 54x more likely to be prosecuted for Troubles related incidents than IRA terrorists.  Veterans are being subject to discriminatory treatment by the Northern Ireland criminal justice system.

Since 2019, the British Government has broken repeated promises to bring an end to these discriminatory and vexatious prosecutions and protect Troubles veterans.  MPs believe that there are more than 100 elderly veterans still living under the threat of such prosecutions. There is now no choice but to bring this case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Who are we?

We are the family of Dennis Hutchings, a British army veteran who served in the British Army for 26 years.  Dennis was posted to Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the early 1970s and served his country honourably, rising to the rank of Regimental Corporal Major. 

In 2015, he was arrested at home in relation to the tragic shooting of an innocent civilian, John Patrick Cunningham, in Northern Ireland in 1974.  Dennis did not shoot Mr. Cunningham but, tragically, another member of his patrol did.  The matter was investigated at the time and the Director of Public Prosecutions determined that, despite the tragic circumstances, no crime had been committed.  The soldier who is believed to have shot Mr. Cunningham is now dead.

It took years for Dennis’ case to come to trial.  Despite delays caused by COVID restrictions, and having every opportunity to avoid a trial altogether due to ill-health, Dennis was insistent that his trial took place as quickly as possible to clear his name before he died.  Due to his advanced renal failure, Dennis would attend court three days a week to receive dialysis treatment the other two days.  Dennis also suffered from heart failure and fluid on the lung.  At the time of trial, he was 80 years of age.

Dennis died mid-way through the proceedings in October 2021 after contracting COVID-19.  For all intents and purposes, Dennis was hounded to death.

Before he died, Dennis brought a legal challenge in the High Court and then the European Court of Human Rights to end this discriminatory treatment.  Not for himself.  He knew it was too late for him.  But for all the other members of our armed forces who served in Northern Ireland who have been abandoned by the British state.

We are here to keep Dennis’s fight for fair treatment of veterans going.

Why we need your help

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

During the Troubles, around 3,750 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.

Anyone who commits an unlawful killing should face justice.  However, despite being responsible for around 2,200 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 Dennis, have faced or continue to face prosecution.

To compound this, in 2021 Parliament passed the Overseas Operations Act, which brought such vexatious and discriminatory prosecutions of veterans who served overseas to an end.  This legislation did not extend to Northern Ireland, mainly because of resistance from Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA which holds the balance of power in Northern Ireland.  In doing so, and in failing to stand up Sinn Fein, the Government has created a two-tier class of veterans.  Those who served in Northern Ireland deserve the same protections as those who served in other theatres of conflict.

How you can help

We need to raise funds to cover the current and future costs of continuing Dennis’ application to Strasbourg. Every penny donated will go towards the funding of the progression of his case.  Your money will help to protect the rights of men and women who risked their lives to serve this country. 

We have already received confirmation from the Strasbourg Court that, as Dennis’ next of kin, we will be able to continue Dennis’ claim. We know that Dennis believed wholeheartedly in his application to the Strasbourg Court and standing up for the rights of all British veterans.

We are represented by leading human rights lawyers McCue Jury & Partners LLP and barrister Dr. Austen Morgan who, to date, have given Dennis and us much of their time pro bono.

On Dennis’ behalf, thank you so much for the support you have given so far.  

Dennis never gave up or lost hope, despite what this government put him through – and nor will we.

With best wishes,

Dennis’ Family

Update 1

The family of Dennis Hutchings

May 13, 2022

The government’s latest promise

Dear Supporters, 

We’re writing to update you following Tuesday’s announcement during the Queen’s Speech.

You may have heard during the speech that the government are intending to pass legislation imminently, which should draw a line under future discriminatory and vexatious prosecutions of British Army veterans for Troubles related incidents. 

While encouraging, until a bill is actually introduced into Parliament and we know its contents, we do not know if the Government will actually finally deliver on its commitment. 

Veterans have been let down too many times and too many promises have been broken. 

That being so, we will not rest until legislation is passed that gives Northern Ireland veterans the protections they deserve.

This means continuing Dennis’ case in Strasbourg.  Should the Government let the veterans down again, it may be the last best hope to bring an end to this and give innocent elderly victims peace of mind that they won’t one day face a knock on the door to be dragged away and subjected to the ordeal that Dennis was.

If successful, Strasbourg would not only declare that the government violated the human rights of veterans who served this country, but, if it continues to break them, it would compel the United Kingdom to follow through on their promises. 

Please continue to donate, share, and support Dennis’ deeply important quest to protect Northern Ireland veterans.  Dennis’ campaign can be found here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice4veterans/

As always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

With very best wishes, 

The family of Dennis Hutchings.

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