A NEW law designed to protect veterans from malicious prosecution will withhold justice from victims and fail military personnel.

A committee of MPs,scrutinising the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, have found it “unjustifiable” and “inadequate”.

The legislation is supposed to stop repeated prosecutions and investigations into veterans’ activities, setting a presumption against prosecution after five years.

It also sets shorter and more inflexible limitation periods for claims for human rights violations, personal injury and death, and a duty to consider derogating from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in respect of future overseas military operations.

However Westminster’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has criticised the legislation, arguing that ot only does it prevent victims from obtaining justice but it could prevent prosecution against serious crimes such as torture and war crimes.

JCHR chairwoman Harriet Harman MP QC said the Bill was “bad for the rule of law, bad for the victims of crime and bad for our Armed Forces. “ in a statement today.

She said:”Members of our Armed Forces are not above the law, nor should they be exempt from upholding human rights. There are some very troubling issues with this Bill.”

The Labour MP said the law “creates unjustified barriers” to prosecuting military personnel who commit crimes, adding that it “ breaches the UK’s human rights obligations and disregards the fact that there are many complexities and difficulties involved in bringing such claims to light.”

Ms Harman continued: “It is wrong that the Government should seek to use a presumption against prosecution to prevent prosecutions even for the most serious human rights violations, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder, torture or genocide.

“This Government seeks to use the problem of repeat investigations as a justification for the Bill, but ignores the fact we heard in evidence, which was that repeat investigations are largely a result of poor investigations that lack sufficient independence.

“Investigations into incidents arising from the UK’s involvement in conflicts have exposed extremely serious wrong-doing, and it is therefore vital that future action to investigate and prosecute such crimes can continue unimpeded.”

Ms Harman also criticised the government’s use of negative rhetoric around lawyers who represent victims in military cases, saying ministers had “denigrated” lawyers and claims made.

It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel criticised “lefty lawyers” who helped asylum seekers hold the Government to account, and Boris Johnson mirrored the remarks when discussing plans to recruit thousands more police officers.

Ms Harman said: “ We object to the Ministers denigration of both of lawyers and claims. The repeated use of the term “lawfare” and “vexatious” claims in Parliament and public rhetoric shows a failure to respect the role of the independent legal profession in upholding the rule of law, the role of the courts in striking out vexatious claims and the independence of the Service Prosecution Authority .

“We asked the MoD Minister to inform us of any cases where he believed the courts have failed or refused to use their powers to strike out unmeritorious claims. He was not able to do so.

“Without amendment, the Bill as it stands will allow those in our armed forces who perpetrate serious crimes to escape justice and prevent victims with justified claims bringing wrongdoing before the courts.”

The Bill was introduced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in March this year, and is due to go back to the Commons for its third reading in early November.

The MoD cited the thousands of claims made after the Iraq War, many of which were unfounded, as a reason for introducing the legislation set to protect soldiers.