North Herts based author Ken Follett given dressing down by retired Colonel over ‘off-hand’ tweet

Ken Follett

Ken Follett - Credit: Archant

A retired British Army colonel has shot down an outburst made by Knebworth author Ken Follett about the morality of British soldiers as an ‘off-hand attack on their honour’.

Colonel Richard Kemp MBE.

Colonel Richard Kemp MBE. - Credit: Archant

Mr Follett – whose main office is in Stevenage – tweeted in response to comments made by Prime Minister Theresa May last week, saying she would help protect soldiers against ‘vexatious claims’ regarding their conduct in Iraq.

Mrs May said this would not prevent the government-established Iraq Historic Allegations Team from investigating 1,500 claims of abuse and torture.

But Mr Follett fumed: “British soldiers now free to rape, murder and torture in wartime to avoid ‘Vexatious Claims.’ Thanks, Theresa May.”

Col Richard Kemp – who among other things led troops in Afghanistan – told the Comet: “I have read many of Ken Follett’s books and admire his work.

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“Unfortunately on this issue he is quite wrong. The intended derogation from elements of the European Convention on Human Rights certainly does not leave British soldiers free to rape, murder and torture.

“All of these serious offences are banned under both the Laws of Armed Conflict and military law, which will continue to govern soldiers’ actions on the battlefield.

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“Mr Follett also misjudges British soldiers if he believes that they are likely to commit such crimes.

“The British Army is renowned across the world for its honour, integrity, discipline and decency, unlike so many of the enemies that they have fought in defence of our country over the years and decades.

“These men and women, who voluntarily put their lives on the line to defend us, are the bravest and the best. Mr Follett does himself no credit by his offhand attack on their honour.”

Mr Follett’s thrillers and historical novels have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. His books include Edge of Eternity and Fall of Giants.

The MoD issued a statement saying: “Under the plans, it will remain essential that our armed forces operate to the highest standards and are subject to the rule of law at all times.

“They will continue to operate under a comprehensive legal framework in accordance with international humanitarian law – the law of armed conflict, including the Geneva conventions – and with service law, which includes UK criminal law of England and Wales, regardless of where they are serving.”

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