Interesting script about Major (retd) "William" Joyce AGC MP

Was he being fitted up for a Labour seat by Derry Irvine at this stage?

I found this as the result of some unrelated digging.

Perhaps "William" would like to share his views on the soldiery speaking out in public about amalgamations, disbandments and cutbacks?


House of Commons 9 December 1998

Madam Speaker I am very grateful to the Hon. Member for Mid Norfolk (Mr Simpson) for the opportunity to explain the Army's handling of Major Joyce; and to reiterate the Government's position on this issue.

Major Joyce is a serving officer of the British Army. He is the author of a Fabian Society discussion paper published in August 1997 and entitled "Arms and the Man - Renewing the Armed Services". The personal views contained in that paper are, in a number of respects, critical of the present management of the Army.

The action currently being taken by the Army against Major Joyce is of an administrative rather than disciplinary nature. I am sure that the House will understand that I must, in commenting today, take care not to prejudice the outcome of that management action.

Let me first say that Major Joyce's actions were of concern to the Army not because of the content of his article, and subsequent articles, but because the manner of its release showed complete disregard both of Queen's Regulations and of his Commanding Officer.

The Army is a part of society and its values must reflect those of society. But it is a cohesive and disciplined force. Its effectiveness - and ultimately the safety of every individual soldier in it - depends on individual and collective respect for that discipline. The sort of requirements imposed by Queen's Regulations on serving personnel are not novel. They mirror those which apply throughout the Civil Service and elsewhere in the public sector. They require that those seeking to publish views and opinions seek permission in advance. The regulations pertaining to political activities by serving members of the Armed Forces have been clearly explained to Major Joyce and it is disappointing, therefore, that he has chosen not to act in accordance with them.

The decision to investigate the authorship by Major Joyce of a publication and a number of newspaper articles which were critical of aspects of defence policy and recruitment was taken by the Army Chain of Command. Such action simply followed established Army procedures. Ministers were not, at any time, involved in either the decision to investigate Major Joyce's actions, or in the course that that inquiry took.

The temporary suspension of Major Joyce, in August 1997, whilst an investigation was conducted, was not a disciplinary action, and was not recorded as such.

The completed Investigation Report was forwarded by Major Joyce's chain of command to the Army Prosecuting Authority for consideration. The Report was not copied to, or seen by, Ministers. I would like to reassure the House that the Army Prosecuting Authority is independent of, and cannot be directed by, the military chain of command - or indeed Ministers - on cases he is asked to consider. He is subject only to legal oversight by the Attorney-General. The decision whether or not to prosecute a case referred to the Army Prosecuting Authority is based on the realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction based on the evidence, and whether a prosecution is in the public and Service interest. It will depend on an assessment of all the pertinent legal, evidential and procedural issues. These tests are essentially the same as those applied by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Madam Speaker, I hope the Hon. Member opposite will agree that it would not be appropriate to disclose the basis on which the Army Prosecuting Authority reached his decision not to court-martial Major Joyce. Indeed it would not be appropriate for Ministers to be aware of that basis, let alone to disclose it. This is recognised in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, in which exemption 4 (c) covers information relating to legal proceedings. I have, however, no reason to believe that the appropriate Army Prosecuting Authority procedures were not followed; nor for suspecting that the grounds for deciding not to proceed to a Court Martial did not reflect a proper assessment of legal, evidential and procedural factors, in which Ministers were not involved.

The [Hon. Member's] suggestion that "political pressure" - by Defence Ministers or others in the Government - was brought to bear on the Army Prosecuting Authority is totally without foundation. The Hon. Member suggested in his Address that the reason Major Joyce was not disciplined was because of the intervention of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine. It has long been the practice of successive Administrations that correspondence between Ministers is confidential and is not for publication. Such correspondence is properly withheld under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information; but I am assured by the Army that the decision not to discipline Major Joyce had nothing whatever to do with any supposed intervention by the Lord Chancellor.

The Hon. Member referred in his opening address to the authorship by Major Joyce of his journal, entitled "The Armed Services Forum." This is an entirely private venture, which enjoys neither official support nor funding. It does, however, raise a further question about freedom of expression for serving personnel, on which I would like to reassure Hon. Members.

Serving members of the Armed Forces do not need formal authority to publish a magazine or journal. A number of 'in-house' publications already exist through which servicemen and women can express their views; for example, the British Army Review magazine. Major Joyce's initiative was exclusively a matter for the Military authorities and it was dealt with in the normal way - without consulting Ministers. No constraints other than those laid down in Queen's Regulations are placed by the Ministry of Defence on the independence of Major Joyce as the editor of the Armed Services Forum.

Major Joyce returned to work in September 1997 when he was posted to a job appropriate to his rank within the Adjutant General's Corps Centre at Worthy Down. This move was deemed necessary because Major Joyce had irrevocably undermined the confidence of his former employing officer. Major Joyce continued to seek and receive media attention in continued disregard for Queen's Regulations and this behaviour led in October 1997 to a Formal Warning. In February 1998 he was formally interviewed by his Commanding Officer and informed that he was recommending to the Military secretary that he, Major Joyce, should not be employed further in the Army. Major Joyce was then sent home. He has remained away from work since that time. He has made no application to resign or retire from the Army. The recommendations, made by Major Joyce's Commanding Officer to the Army Chain of Command, concerning his future in the Army should properly be confidential between the two parties involved. I would, however, like to re-assure the House, once again, that Ministers have played no part whatever, either formally or informally, in this process which is ongoing.

The time taken to conclude the review of Major Joyce's future in the Army is regretted, but is not without explanation. The procedure is considered and measured and gives the fullest opportunity to the individual to make representation at every stage of the process. Until the process is complete, an officer properly continues to be paid and his terms and conditions of service remain extant.

The matter is presently being considered at Army Board level by two non-Ministerial Members of the Board who have not previously been involved in handling this case. Major Joyce has seen and has had the opportunity to comment on all the material before the Board, save only for legal advice; and he has been offered the opportunity of an oral hearing with the Board later this month, at which his solicitor can be present if he so wishes. The decision on Major Joyce's future in the Army will be taken exclusively by those Army Board members. Ministers have no involvement in this process, unless Major Joyce is dissatisfied with the Army Board's decision in respect of a redress of complaint and he petitions the Sovereign, in which case the Army's submission would be forwarded to the Palace through the Secretary of State.

I understand that it is Major Joyce's intention to be adopted as a candidate in the forthcoming Scottish elections, although this has not yet happened. Queen's Regulations quite clearly place the onus on the individual to apply to retire from the service, if he desires to stand as a parliamentary candidate. Major Joyce has made no such application, although he should clearly do so if he is selected. But before the question of candidature arose Major Joyce's Commanding Officer had recommended that he should not be employed further in the Army. That matter is currently before the Army Board. The House will understand that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further. Let me make it crystal clear that it is for the Army to decide if, and when, it is appropriate to take action against an individual in these circumstances. That decision would be made on the basis of Queen's Regulations and Ministers have absolutely no role to play in it. I can reassure the House that the suggestion, [by the Hon Member opposite], that Major Joyce has been saved from Army censure by political protection, or cronyism, is completely wrong. Ministers have at no time sought to influence the decisions made by the Army in this matter.

In summary, Ministers have not taken part in any consideration of any disciplinary or administrative action against Major Joyce. These are properly, and exclusively, matters for the Army. The conduct of Major Joyce has, inevitably, been discussed by Ministers, and between Ministers and officials with regard to handling the public and parliamentary aspects which have arisen. The suggestion of Ministerial interference in the process is wrong. I fully agree with Hon. Members, however, that the resolution of this matter cannot come too soon. The treatment of Major Joyce by the Army chain of command has, I believe, been entirely fair and reasonable.


Precedents for Retirement from the Army on Parliamentary Candidature

There are, of course, precedents for members of the Armed Forces retiring from the Army in order to pursue their political ambitions. In August 1974, for example, the Hon. Member for Hampshire East's application to retire from the Army was approved by the Army Retirements Board which enabled him to fight, and win, the parliamentary seat for Petersfield at the General Election, some two months later. This stage has clearly not yet been reached in respect of Major Joyce.

Guidance on publishing journals

No specific guidance exists for serving officers who edit journals or magazines on defence related subjects. Queen's Regulations, however, do cover the requirement for clearance before publication.

AF B9926 Action

It might be helpful if I briefly explain that Army Form B9926 [to which Hon. Members have referred] is an administrative procedure which is used to effect an officer's premature move from a particular appointment, or the termination of his/her Service. It is completed by the Officer's superior officer who plays no further part in the process after having submitted the papers to higher authority. In addition to submitting a Redress of Complaint or Representation, the Officer concerned may be interviewed by successive senior officers before, in the cases where termination of Service is requested, the matter is referred to the Army Board for a decision.

Appeal against dismissal

The Hon. Member for asked whether Major Joyce would be able to challenge any decision taken by the Army Board. The question is premature but, as a matter of principle, the answer would be yes. If the Army Board calls upon an officer to resign or retire prematurely, he would be able, should he so wish, to seek redress against the decision. The application for redress would normally be considered by two different members of the Army Board.

If two Board members could not be identified who had not previously been involved, the redress would be referred to the Defence Council. Two members of the Defence Council who had not been connected with the case would then review the Army Board¹s decision. If unsuccessful, he could request the Army Board to seek the Direction of the Sovereign. Once all internal procedures had been exhausted, Major Joyce could seek a judicial review in the Divisional Court of the High Court, if he is advised that this is an appropriate course of action.

Anderson Principles

Briefly, in layman's terms, the Anderson Principles are as follows: First, where the case goes to the Army Board, the Board members concerned must meet and deal with the matter as a tribunal. Second, the Board members must consider whether an oral hearing is called for. Third, the Board must ensure that the individual concerned has seen and has had an opportunity to comment on all the material before the Board, save only for legal advice (and any material covered by Public Interest Immunity).

Access to Employment Tribunals

In his article in The Sunday Times of 29 November 1998, Major Joyce claims that he will take his case for unfair dismissal to an Industrial Tribunal as well as seeking the right of access for all Service personnel to industrial tribunal. Currently, Service personnel cannot take a claim for unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal. The Armed Forces Act 1996 only allows access to such tribunals on matters of Equal Pay, Sex and Race Discrimination. Although Service personnel currently have limited access to Employment Tribunals, they have a statutory right to take out a formal application for redress of complaint under section 180 of the Army Act 1955.

Discharges following AF B9926 action

In the five-year period from 1993 to 1997, just nine officers have been called upon to resign their commissions following AF B9926 recommendations that they should not be employed further.

Representation from Liberty

I can confirm that Liberty has made certain written representations, enclosing their Counsel¹s opinion on the possible violations of Major Joyce's rights. This will be considered by officials as part of their continuing appraisal of Armed Forces personnel issues.

Alleged assault on Major Joyce

Following an RAF Police investigation into an allegation of assault made by Major Joyce, I understand that it was decided following Legal Advice, from Legal Branch, Headquarters Land Command, that there was insufficient evidence for formal disciplinary action. The officer concerned was dealt with administratively by his Commanding Officer. The matter is therefore closed.

European Convention on Human Rights

As the administrative action has not been concluded it would not be appropriate for me to comment on possible outcomes.

Physical Selection Standards (Recruits)

The introduction of PSS(R) in April heralded a complete review of Army fitness policy, allowing female recruits to compete with male recruits for the posts open to them. With a greater understanding of physiology and with access to increasingly sophisticated technology the Army is able to face the difficult problem of recruiting and retaining soldiers - both men and women - fit for the jobs required of them in a scientific and cost-effective way.

Expansion of posts open to Women

In October 1997, my Rt Hon. friend the Secretary of State extended the number of posts open to women from 47% to 70%, with effect from 1 April 1998. This was a significant and important initiative. The change is being closely monitored and evaluated by the Army over the next few years in order to determine, inter alia, whether further change could and should be effected.

Equality of Opportunity

We fully recognise that the Army must be, and indeed is being, more active and coherent in its approach to eradicating all forms of discrimination, harassment and bullying. This is fundamental to combat effectiveness where good teamwork, mutual understanding and trust are so critical to effective service operation. We are firmly committed to the creation of a fair and decent environment in which all Army servicemen and women can enjoy equality of opportunity free from harassment.

Glass Ceiling

I would like to assure hon. Members that the Armed Forces are committed to providing equal treatment for all their members. They want all personnel to be respected and valued, irrespective of race, gender, social background or religious affiliation. They seek to appoint and promote individuals on merit alone. Where officers went to school is quite simply not an issue. There must be no glass ceilings, either in fact or in perception.

Embracing New Ideas

The Army is always receptive to new ideas and initiatives. This has been amply demonstrated in the way it has adapted to an unprecedented level of change since the end of the Cold War. In doing so it has managed its affairs, and its personnel, with skill and sensitivity whilst at the same time dealing with an unparalleled variety of operational tasks. A number of the issues raised by Major Joyce were already being addressed by the Army as part of its personnel strategy work.

Handling of Minorities

The commitment of the Service Chiefs better to represent the society they defend, in terms of the representation of women and ethnic minorities and the creation of an environment in which all service personnel can enjoy equality of opportunity free from harassment, is unequivocal and absolute. Firm actions have supported these words. We are, for example, working together with the Commission for Racial Equality on a basis of partnership to promote racial equality within the Armed Forces. We have acknowledged past failures and are now committed to achieving permanent change. In October 1997 my Rt. Hon friend the Secretary of State announced the expansion of posts open to women in the Army from 47% to 70%, with effect from 1 April 1998; and in October of this year the Chief of the General Staff revised his Equal Opportunities Directive for the Army. There remains more work to be done but we understand both the need and the real benefits and we are moving forward.

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