THE Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt’s proposal to introduce an amnesty for historic crimes committed by government-directed military personnel confirms that there are de facto two moral codes operating in most countries: the law the vast majority has to abide by, and a law that permits the powerful to transcend this law and commit otherwise illegal acts with impunity.

There are, of course, many countries in the world with their own codes of behaviour but all conform, more or less, to a worldwide standard of basic morality – that is, for the common people.

By convention, a separate code has allowed the rules that apply to the rest to be modified by the powerful in pursuit of their own interests. They have been able to use the instruments of state to justify to themselves and to their agents the rightfulness of their actions.

Nonetheless, it is illogical to have conflicting moral codes.

Geoff Naylor
Winchester, Hampshire