An innocent man was shot in the back and a Conservative MP wants to protect his killers

Richard Benyon MP addressing rally
Support us and go ad-free

On 15 June 1974, the British army shot and killed John Pat Cunningham. On 15 June 2018, 44 years later, millionaire Tory MP Richard Benyon called for the protection of Cunningham’s killers through a proposed bill to create a statute of limitations for the armed forces.

15 June 1974

The British Life Guard Regiment shot and killed Cunningham near his home in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They shot him in a field. He was unarmed and described as “a vulnerable man with learning difficulties”.

In April 2015, Dennis Hutchings was charged with attempted murder. The case is still ongoing.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Benyon’s call

On the anniversary of Cunningham’s killing, Benyon proposed a statue of limitations that would ban criminal prosecution of British soldiers. He addressed a rally of former British service personnel in Parliament Square and claimed under the Good Friday Agreement “the terrorists have been appeased time and time again”.

This reinforced a similar false claim made by Theresa May at PMQs on 9 May. May claimed the only people being investigated were those in the armed forces. But legacy statistics released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) rubbish such claims.

Tweeting about the rally, Benyon stated it was “an honour to meet Dennis Hutchings”. At the rally, he also addressed his arrest directly saying it “is ridiculous and it has to stop”.

Consequences of Benyon’s Statue of Limitations

Benyon’s legislation would ban [paywall] criminal prosecution against British soldiers based on allegations more than 10 years old. And according to Benyon’s claims, the legislation would not just to apply to Operation Banner – the operation where the British army gave support to the police in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007.

It would also apply to “subsequent operations”. In other words, operations like Iraq and Afghanistan, as reported [paywall] by The Telegraph. This would put the UK, as previously reported by The Canary, in the same category as former dictatorships in Chile and Argentina.

What needs to happen

As has happened after other conflicts, the public needs justice for what British forces did in Ireland. Claims of being “hounded into old age” offer no excuse. The legislation proposed by Benyon would ensure the murky world of British involvement in Ireland, and around the world, remains hidden and unpunished.

Get Involved!

Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

– Contact Justice for the forgottenPFC, and Relatives for Justice

Featured image via ScreenGrab

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed