The Stop the War Coalition yesterday condemned amendments tabled by Monmouth Tory MP David Davies to the Policing and Crime Bill, currently going through parliament, that would make it an offence to ‘stir up hatred of uniformed military personnel on official duties’.
‘Such a law would be another step towards a police state,’ warned Stop the War Coalition press officer David Wilson yesterday.
Davies says he was prompted to propose the amendments by the protest against a parade of returning troops in Luton last week.
Stop the War’s Wilson told News Line yesterday: ‘We would like to see no military parades because they seem to be celebrating defeat and immoral and illegal wars.
‘However, we feel the soldiers are not to blame for being misused as we, and many of their families, would like to see them returned to this country and not have to go back to Iraq or Afghanistan.’
He said he didn’t see what Davies’ amendments had to do with religion.
This was a reference to Davies remarks to the BBC that he intends to put amendments to religious hatred legislation.
The Tory MP told the BBC the same protection which outlaws abusive behaviour outside mosques and other places of worship should be extended to the military.
He said: ‘What I’m suggesting is that British soldiers, who I think are our finest young men and women, the cream of society, should also be protected from that sort of gratuitous abuse they experienced last week.
‘I’ve taken the religious hatred bill and taken out all references to religion and I’ve changed it to uniformed military personnel on official duties and if that’s tabled and passed, that would give British soldiers the same rights.’
News Line asked Stop the War’s Wilson to comment on the case of Luton airport baggage handler Jalal Ahmed who has been suspended pending an internal review by his employers, Menzies Aviation, after being seen at the Luton anti-war demonstration.
‘It’s staggering,’ said Wilson. ‘Whatever we may think of the Luton demonstration, it was legal under present law.
‘It is outside the remit of his employers to harass or suspend him for taking part in a legal activity that has nothing to do with his work.’
• Four NATO soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb strike in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
A British soldier killed near Musa Qala on Saturday was yesterday named as Lance Corporal Christopher Harkett.