Williamson offers taxpayer cash to defend Bloody Sunday murder suspect

Soldier F has been charged with murder and attempted murder

The Secretary of State for Defence has offered to spend public money defending a soldier charged with murder and attempted murder.

Gavin Williamson said the government would offer legal and welfare support to a former paratrooper who has been charged with allegedly murdering two men and attempting to murder four more.

The paratrooper, known only as Soldier F, is alleged to have murdered James Wray and William Mckinney during the Bloody Sunday massacre in the Northern Irish city of Derry in 1972.

The soldier has also been charged with the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

The charges were announced by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service today after the relatives of the 13 victims of the massacre marched through Derry.

The prosecutors also announced they thought there was insufficient evidence to prosecute 18 other suspects – 16 soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members.

A 12-year long inquiry conducted by Lord Savile found the killings were unjustified, none of those killed were carrying guns and the soldiers were under no threat and gave no warning before opening fire.

The British Army was sent to Northern Ireland in 1969 at the request of the Unionist government.

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

2 Responses to “Williamson offers taxpayer cash to defend Bloody Sunday murder suspect”

  1. Chester Draws

    Who would volunteer to join the British Army, knowing that if something goes wrong they could be dragged into courts decades later? Of course they are going to pay his costs. It’s not about Soldier F, it’s about ensuring current soldiers that the government actually has their back.

    We all know the Bloody Sunday killings were unjustified. Cannot be justified. But an IRA killer cannot be tried for his or her crimes in this matter, not matter how cold-blooded. They were also unjustified.

    The point of the peace process is to close down the endless grievance mongering. That requires both sides to let go. You won’t have proper peace while one side gets to continue its vendettas and the other side has to stand by and let bombers and murderers run free.

    If you are happy with known republican thugs to be immune, why do you choke on the other side getting the same deal? You are effectively undermining the peace process by not letting very old — and we are talking very old — issues die.

  2. Ultraviolet

    A charge is not the same thing as guilt.

    ANYONE charged with a serious crime should be provided with a proper defence at taxpayers’ expense. This is a vital component of the rule of law. The trial is the thing that will decide whether this soldier is or is not guilty of murder. For the trial to be fair, he has the right, with the help of high quality legal representation, to analyse the evidence, test it out, challenge it, and set out any reasons why the evidence does not prove that he is guilty.

    It is also in the interests of the efficient running of the courts and of any witnesses who have to be questioned that this soldier should be represented, rather than handling all of this in person. The cost to the taxpayer of expecting a non-lawyer to handle a major trial, and the stress to witnesses of being cross-examined by the defendant in person, mean that requiring a defendant to act without representation is massively against the public interest.

    If after a fair trial a person is found guilty, then not only should they be punished according to the law, they should also be required, where they have money, to repay their legal costs. But nobody should have to bankrupt themselves in order to try to prove their innocence.

Comments are closed.