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Bloody Sunday families welcome report decision

Families of Bloody Sunday victims have welcomed the announcement that the long-awaited report into the killings would not be handed to the Government before undergoing legal checks.

Lord Saville's decision to hold on to his findings while lawyers examined them for potential national and personal security issues came after the bereaved expressed concerns the state would possess the 5,000-page document two weeks before them.

It was originally intended that the report into the shooting dead of 14 people by the British Army in Londonderry in 1972 would be passed to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward next week — and the legal exercise would then commence.

But the inquiry papers, which took 12 years to compile and cost £200m, will now be reviewed while still under Lord Saville's control.

The move should not alter the expected timeline for its eventual publication, which could now happen next month.

Families had feared the legal process could have run into the General Election campaign, which would have further delayed it being released. Victims' relatives Tony Doherty and John Kelly backed Lord Saville's decision.

“While we disagree fundamentally with the need for a security review, we nevertheless welcome Lord Saville's decision to retain possession of the report until it is ready to be made public,” they said in a joint statement. “We feel now that this report can and should be released before the dissolution of Parliament and we urge Lord Saville to take every precaution to ensure his report is not undermined in any way.”

A spokesman for the Secretary of State confirmed the change.

“Following a request from the families Lord Saville has agreed that the checking process to fulfil the legal obligations on the Secretary of State will take place at the inquiry premises,” she said.

“The report will be published in Parliament as soon as possible.

“The Secretary of State intends to make a statement to Parliament on Monday before the checking exercise takes place.”

Lord Saville's inquiry was set up in 1998 to re-examine the events of January 1972, when soldiers from the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside area of Derry.

Related:

Bloody Sunday: What really happened?

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