Politics

High Court quashes decision not to proceed with ‘Soldier F’ prosecution



The judge’s ruling on Wednesday raises the prospect of “Soldier F”, who is in his 70s, standing trial for murder. Nobody has ever been convicted over the deaths of demonstrators on Bloody Sunday. In total, 13 unarmed civilians died, shot by British paratroopers.

But a comrade of “Soldier F” spoke of his disgust that the veteran could still be dragged to court. The 80-year-old soldier – who can be identified only as “Sergeant O” – said: “That’s incredible to hear  the decision not to prosecute him has been overturned. It is very upsetting. It’’s a disgrace.

“These are events that happened 50 years ago. ‘Soldier F’ was a young man at the time and has had to live with Bloody Sunday all his life. But he is a strong man and he will fight this.”

The decision will intensify calls for the Government to introduce legislation to end the prosecutions of British soldiers over fatalities during the Troubles.

Constant uncertainty ‘affects all veterans’

Johnny Mercer, the Conservative MP who quit as veterans’ minister in protest at the failure of the Government to end the court cases, said: “While I have never defended this particular individual [‘Soldier F’], I take issue with the process.

“This constant uncertainty affects not only him but all veterans who have served in Northern Ireland, and the Government must fulfil its manifesto commitment to bring this to an end.”

Delivering the ruling, the Lady Chief Justice said the PPS decision should be “reconsidered”, adding: “We consider that the decision crosses the threshold of irrationality where it simply does not add up.”

She said it was for the PPS to decide what to do next but suggested a district judge should rule on whether certain evidence was admissible in any criminal trial.

McKinney’s brother Mickey welcomed the court ruling, saying: “Hopefully this will now move things on and get the case started. I hope this is a step closer to justice. This thing has been dragged out for so many years it is just ridiculous.

“Hopefully things will start moving now and we will get him into court and get justice.”

A PPS decision not to charge other soldiers remained in place.

Stephen Herron, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, said the team involved in the “Soldier F” prosecution would take time to study the court ruling.

Mr Herron added: “I would like to acknowledge the lasting pain and frustration of the families involved in these judicial review proceedings and their wider campaign for truth and justice. It is important that we effectively engage with the families, and we are committed to doing so.” our hand.”



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