Addressing Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Francois recounted the story of a Dublin born Catholic who joined the British Army to fight the IRA and was being investigated for killing an IRA officer to protect one of his comrades. The Tory MP confronted the Prime Minister as he asked: “Why, Prime Minister, are you pandering to Sinn Fein IRA while throwing veterans like me to the wolves?”
Mrs May denied the accusation that her decision to block ministers from putting legislation forward to give Northern Ireland veterans amnesty means former IRA terrorists enjoy the opposite privilege.
She said: “It is not the case that the terrorists have an amnesty currently.
“It has been made very clear that evidence of criminal activity will be investigated and people should report to justice.
“What I want to ensure is that we do have a fair and just system.
“At the moment, I do not believe that the system is operating fairly. I don’t want to see a system where there is an amnesty for terrorists.
“I want to see a system where investigations can take place in a lawful manner, where the results of those investigations can be upheld and will not be reopened in the future.
“And in order to do that we need to change the current system and that is what we will do.”
But as she ended her statement, Mr Francois could be heard saying: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mrs May has personally blocked ministers from putting forward legislation which could have protected former soldiers from prosecution for alleged offences during the Northern Ireland Troubles, according to a leaked memorandum seen by The Sunday Telegraph.
Conservative MP Bob Stewart also criticised the Government’s handling of Northern Ireland veterans, saying they needed better protection from prosecution for events they had previously been investigated and cleared of.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Stewart said: “As an ex-soldier and now a Member of Parliament, I am ashamed. Ashamed that my Government has not sorted this matter out.
“I ask the minister, and especially the Secretary of State who has been in post longer, how much longer before this can be sorted out, and are you not ashamed?”
Northern Ireland minister John Penrose replied: “I suspect this is something which successive governments need to share some blame for failing to fix over many years and it is clearly a situation which cannot be allowed to continue.
“It is not right, it is not just, and it must be sorted out as promptly as we can.”