Dennis Hutchings, a Troubles veteran, attacked military top brass last night after his request to have his coffin carried by serving soldiers was allegedly blocked.

Supporters for Mr Hutchings, who was being tried in Belfast over a fatal 1974 shooting, are calling for Life Guards members to be pallbearers at the funeral on Remembrance Day.

However, a request made on Friday through the regiment by a former major who served in Northern Ireland alongside Mr Hutchings is said to have been denied by the Life Guards’ commanding officer.

Dennis Hutchings (pictured in 1978) said he was determined to clear his name over his alleged role in the shooting of John Pat Cunningham in County Tyrone almost 50 years ago

Dennis Hutchings, pictured in 1978, said that he was determined clear his name about his alleged role in the murder of John Pat Cunningham (County Tyrone) almost 50 years ago

Yesterday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who served in the Scots Guards, stoked a military row as he appeared to back Mr Hutchings’ family – and vowed to ‘find out who stopped’ the plans.

Mr Wallace said: ‘If he wants pallbearers at his funeral and the commanding officer is willing to release them, he served his country, he’s not been convicted of anything.

‘I did actually direct the [MoD] to help bring his body back from Northern Ireland, or facilitate it.’

The 80-year-old Mr Hutchings was supported by thousands upon thousands of veterans as he traveled to Belfast this month to face trial for attempted murder.

Mr Hutchings's supporters outside Belfast Crown Court earlier this month.

Supporters of Mr Hutchings outside Belfast Crown Court earlier in the month   

He claimed he was determined clear his name about his alleged involvement in the shooting in County Tyrone of John Pat Cunningham almost 50 years back.

However, Mr Hutchings was hospitalized just days after the trial started.

He was then diagnosed with Covid-19 and died in hospital on October 18, despite his pleas to return home to continue treatment.

While it is up to each regiment to decide whether it grants military funerals for retired soldiers, Mr Hutchings’ family were reportedly told it could not be accommodated because he was no longer serving.

Last night his son John Hutchings said: ‘I have only asked the Life Guards one thing in the last six-and-a-half years [since Mr Hutchings’ arrest]This is to have pallbearers wearing uniforms

“I was told that you must be a serving soldier, but he was in court to prove his service as a soldier. It’s bang out of order.

“He served 26 years in Army and gave his life for the cause. I’m really, really disappointed with the decision. Dad loved the Life Guards.’

Mr Hutchings’ partner, Kim Devonshire, added: ‘He was on trial in Northern Ireland fighting on behalf of all the other soldiers, so he was still serving.

He was representing more than 200 soldiers who could still be prosecuted over their service in Northern Ireland.’

Major Derek Stratford was a Life Guards officer who served alongside Mr Hutchings. He said he contacted Life Guards Association on Friday in order to request pallbearers.

He said he was told ‘the commanding officer had said no, it can’t be arranged in this day and time’.

Mr Hutchings fell ill days into the trial. He then contracted Covid-19 and died alone in hospital on October 18, despite pleas to return to his native Cornwall to continue treatment

After the trial, Mr Hutchings became ill. He was then diagnosed with Covid-19 and died on October 18, alone, despite his pleas for treatment in Cornwall.

The 88-year-old added: ‘I think it ought to be and I’m disgusted he can’t have it.’

Mr Hutchings will have a regimental trumpeter at the service in Plymouth on November 11 – a date which was offered by coincidence but will have much significance to the thousands of mourners expected to attend.

Former veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer, who will speak at the funeral, said: ‘I will do all I can to fulfil the family’s wishes.’

An MoD spokesman said: ‘The MoD supported Mr Hutchings throughout his trial with legal representation and pastoral care, which will continue to be offered to his family. We have not been approached to provide pallbearers for the funeral.’

A spokesperson for Life Guards Association declined comments.

Six Yorkshire Regiment members served as pallbearers in February for Captain Sir Tom Moore.