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No soldiers to face perjury charges over Bloody Sunday


None of the soldiers who gave evidence to the Bloody Sunday inquiry will face perjury charges over their testimony to the tribunal.

Fifteen were investigated after the judge leading the public inquiry said British soldiers had lied while giving evidence.

The military was heavily criticised in the findings of the Saville inquiry into the mass shooting of civil rights marchers in Derry in 1972.

The 2010 findings said soldiers who had testified had “knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing”.

A civilian who was an alleged member of the Official IRA was also investigated for perjury offences.

Families of the Bloody Sunday victims said they were disappointed by the decision and said further legal action could not be ruled out.

Thirteen people were shot dead by British soldiers in Derry on 30 January 1972. One of the injured died months later.

The Saville Inquiry found that none of the dead or injured had been posing any threat to the soldiers.

The British government apologised in parliament for the actions of its troops after the publication of the inquiry findings.

Now Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has announced that none of the 16 people reported for alleged perjury are to be prosecuted.

It said the available evidence was “insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction”

The PPS said three challenging issues had arisen.

The first was that the Bloody Sunday Inquiry had not framed its criticism of the soldiers’ testimony in a way that amounted to a criminal standard of proof.

It said for legal reasons accounts given by soldiers in 1972 were not admissible as evidence.

It also said that not everyone who had provided evidence to the inquiry had made a witness statement to the PSNI.

Senior Prosecutor John O’Neill said the PPS findings in no way undermined the findings of the Saville Inquiry that those killed and injured were not posing a threat to the soldiers that day.

“We acknowledge that these prosecutorial decisions will be disappointing to the victims and families involved, and that this may be another difficult day for them. We have written to them to explain in detail the reasons for the decisions.

“We would like to provide assurance that these decisions were taken impartially, independently and only after the most thorough and careful consideration of all available evidence and the relevant legal issues.”

“We acknowledge that these prosecutorial decisions will be disappointing to the victims and families involved, and that this may be another difficult day for them. We have written to them to explain in detail the reasons for the decisions.

“We would like to provide assurance that these decisions were taken impartially, independently and only after the most thorough and careful consideration of all available evidence and the relevant legal issues.”

One of the soldiers considered for prosecution on perjury charges is Soldier F, who is currently being prosecuted for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murder of four other men on Bloody Sunday.

The PPS said the decision would not have any impact on the decision to prosecute Soldier F for those offences.


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