Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Bloody Sunday tribunal soldiers 'may face perjury charges'

A number of British soldiers who gave evidence to the Bloody Sunday tribunal are highly likely to be charged with lying to the high-ranking inquiry under oath.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was recently informed by legal sources in London that some of the paratroopers who opened fire on unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday are to be charged with perjury based on evidence they gave to Lord Saville's long-running investigation.

And, in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, the senior Sinn Fein figure also claimed he is not expecting any action to be taken against him over what he told the tribunal during evidence.

In a parallel development, the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch has written to Liam Wray, whose brother Jim was killed during the banned 1972 civil rights march, to say that it has completed a review of Lord Saville's findings and will be meeting the Public Prosecution Service to consider the scope for an investigation in September.

Mr Wray received the letter yesterday. It is understood that the Crown Prosecution Service in London, where the soldiers gave evidence, is liaising with the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland, where the killings took place.

Thirteen people died in Londonderry when British troops opened fire during a civil rights march. A 14th died later of his wounds. All the dead were found to have been innocent by Lord Saville's tribunal which reported last June, prompting David Cameron to formally apologise to the families of the victims.

Charges of murder or manslaughter may be hard to sustain because of the uncertainty over who fired the fatal shots.

Lord Saville accused several soldiers of lying. Some are now dead, but others are still alive. At the tribunal 'Soldier H', who is still alive, claimed to have fired 22 shots at a republican sniper positioned at a window. However, only one shot landed near the window and Lord Saville found there was no gunman there.

Lord Saville suggested that Mr McGuinness, who was the deputy commander of the Derry IRA at the time, probably had a machinegun, but also refuted suggestions that anyone from the IRA had opened fire. Mr McGuinness was among the witnesses who gave evidence to the tribunal.

Speaking yesterday, the Deputy First Minister said: "I am hearing from legal circles in London that the people who being investigated around the issue of perjury are all representatives of the British Army."

He added: "There is a huge discussion taking place within the legal system, and I am being told there is a strong probability that some members of the British Army who gave evidence to the Saville tribunal will be charged with perjury. There is no suggestion that I am going to be charged with it."

Meanwhile, Mr Wray pointed out that soldiers had been offered immunity from prosecution if they told the truth, adding that those who had lied had only themselves to blame if they now faced legal consequences.

"They should be held to account," said Mr Wray.

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