Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer faces resignation calls

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer faces resignation calls amid claims he breached ministerial code over suspected information leak

  • He is accused of tipping off newspaper in bid to ‘bounce’ Defence Secretary Ben Wallace into backing plan to stop troops being hounded over misconduct claims
  • According to sources, Mr Mercer leaked info to shore up support for Overseas Operations Bill, which would force Mr Wallace to push ahead with the legislation
  • While popular among veterans, critics of Bill – including backbench Tory MPs – have suggested it could lead to torture allegations being covered up

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer (above) was facing calls to resign last night over claims he breached the ministerial code over a suspected information leak

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer was facing calls to resign last night over claims he breached the ministerial code over a suspected information leak.

The former Army Captain, 39, is accused of tipping off a newspaper in a bid to ‘bounce’ Defence Secretary Ben Wallace into backing a plan to stop soldiers being hounded over misconduct claims.

According to sources, Mr Mercer leaked the information to shore up support for his Overseas Operations Bill, which would force Mr Wallace to push ahead with the legislation.

While popular among veterans, critics of the Bill – including backbench Conservative MPs – have suggested it could lead to torture allegations being covered up.

Mr Mercer was investigated by the Cabinet Office after an article appeared in a newspaper in October suggesting a High Court judge would be appointed to oversee the investigation of troops suspected of war crimes.

The former Royal Artillery officer was questioned and apparently admitted giving this information to a journalist.

The ministerial code – a set of rules and behavioural standards for MPs in Government roles – dictates that Ministers should obtain permission from Downing Street before disclosing sensitive policy matters.

The former Army Captain, 39, is accused of tipping off a newspaper in a bid to ‘bounce’ Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured) into backing a plan to stop soldiers being hounded over misconduct claims

Ministers are also expected to resign if found to have breached the code – and in 2017 Cabinet Ministers Damian Green and Sir Michael Fallon both quit over misconduct allegations.

However, Priti Patel was permitted to continue as Home Secretary last month despite an official report finding she bullied civil servants.

Mr Mercer completed three gruelling tours of Afghanistan before becoming an MP in 2015.

His parliamentary career has focused on improving welfare provisions for troops and last year he was appointed Minister for Defence People and Veterans. He declined to comment last night.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said: ‘There can be no place in government for Johnny Mercer if he’s shown to have breached the ministerial code and leaked to try to bounce his boss.

‘No serving soldier would get away with this. The best way to fix the Overseas Operations Bill is to work together to ensure it protects British troops and Britain’s reputation for upholding international law.’

A Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘We do not comment on leak enquiries.’

Ministers are also expected to resign if found to have breached the ministerial code – and in 2017 Cabinet Ministers Damian Green and Sir Michael Fallon both quit over misconduct allegations. However, Priti Patel (pictured) was permitted to continue as Home Secretary last month despite an official report finding she bullied civil servants

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