Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Gregory Campbell's fury at Saville Inquiry bill

Bloody Sunday website cost £8k a year, Commons told

DUP MP Gregory Campbell criticised the continued expenditure on the inquiry
DUP MP Gregory Campbell criticised the continued expenditure on the inquiry

Anger has erupted over the continuing cost of the Saville Inquiry after it emerged taxpayers were still footing the bill four years after it published its report and almost 10 years since the last witness left the stand.

The probe, which examined the events of Bloody Sunday, is the most expensive in UK legal history, approaching £200million in total.

Up to last year the NIO was paying almost £8,000 for website costs for the inquiry.

The details emerged during Northern Ireland Questions at Westminster yesterday.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell criticised the continued expenditure on the inquiry.

He said other cases where atrocities were carried out by republicans received nowhere near the same level of funding.

"The families bereaved through La Mon, Kingsmills, Teebane, Droppin' Well and Bloody Friday among others would yearn for similar investment to be made in the deaths of their loved ones," he said.

"There is not a level playing field and it's long past time the balance was restored."

Fourteen civilians died after soldiers opened fire at a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972.

The Saville Inquiry was set up in 1998 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, based on "weight of new material available".

The PSNI launched a murder investigation after the Saville Inquiry's 2010 report was heavily critical of the Army.

The cost of the inquiry was £191m – 20 times the amount spent on the 9/11 Commission into the Twin Towers terror attack in New York in September 2001.

The inquiry into 9/11, which claimed 2,995 lives, lasted for only 20 months and cost $15m.

The Saville Inquiry's costs prompted the Prime Minister to pledge that there would be no more costly, open-ended probes into the past.

The issue was raised by Conservative MP David Mowat yesterday, who questioned whether it was value for money.

"£191m would have paid for 10,000 nurses for a year or, indeed, transformed a large part of the economy of Northern Ireland. It is clear that the Government completely failed to control the costs," he said.

Mr Campbell, an MP for East Londonderry, said he feared the bill could still rise, adding: "The Saville Inquiry costs continue to mount years later. The last witness left the stand in January 2005. However, this is not the only cost as the appointment of 30 officers to investigate the aftermath could run close to £8m."

Factfile

The Saville Inquiry in numbers:

  • Inquiry set up in 1998
  •  12 years to complete
  •  2,500 witness statements
  • 922 oral statements
  • 160 volumes of evidence
  • 121 audio tapes
  • 110 video tapes
  • 20-30 million words
  • £191m cost

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