Relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims have urged Lord Saville to help “speed through” the security checks of his report after the Government said publication could be delayed until after the election.
They also warned it would be a “bad day for justice” if sections of the report are blacked out after the Secretary of State set out details of the checks to be made on it.
Shaun Woodward is drafting in the MoD and security services to sift through the 4,500-page document to check intelligence sources are not identified.
That would breach Human Rights laws by putting them in danger and could also jeopardise national security, he said in a statement to Parliament yesterday.
Mr Woodward confirmed that publication of the long-awaited findings could be delayed until after the General Election.
He insisted contingency plans had been put in place for Lord Saville to hold on to it since fears were raised this month that it could end up “languishing in a warehouse” once the date of the General Election is announced.
But Tony Doherty, whose father Patrick was one of 14 people killed after paratroopers opened fire during a civil rights march in Londonderry on January 30, 1972, said the families could not face having to wait another three or four months for its publication.
He added that redacting — blanking out — sections of the report could undermine confidence in the publication. “We don’t agree with the security review, we don’t feel there is a need for one.
“Lord Saville is legally competent to produce his own report. Our concern now is also that the families have this publication before the election otherwise it could be June or July. Lord Saville should ensure everything is done to speed up this process.”
Mr Woodward said once checking is complete a publication date can be set. It will be released to Parliament first with families and soldiers seeing it hours before.
He added that during the inquiry, the Government submitted material too sensitive to be disclosed publicly, usually because it was supplied by individuals.
“If these individuals could be identified from the details they provided it would endanger their lives,” he said, adding: “I want to publish the report in its entirety. Were I to reach the conclusion, on advice, that a redaction to the text might be necessary, I would consult Lord Saville.”
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry in a statement last night said it had given final approval to the proofs of its report.
A terrible year: See Page 31