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Families of soldiers killed in Hyde Park bombing 'made victims three times over'

Families of soldiers killed in the IRA bombing in London's Hyde Park said they have been made victims "three times over" in the years since the atrocity.

Relatives of some of the members of the Royal Household Cavalry who died in the 1982 attack have launched a campaign as they try to raise funds to bring a legal case.

Mark Tipper, whose 19-year-old brother died in the blast, blamed former Labour prime minister Tony Blair for a "shameful and secret deal" which allowed convicted IRA member John Downey to walk free.

Under the controversial on the runs scheme (OTRs) - allegedly agreed by Mr Blair's Labour government and Sinn Fein - individuals were told they were not being sought by the authorities.

"The chief suspect walked free from the Old Bailey because of a shameful and secret deal by Tony Blair with the IRA," Mr Tipper said.

"Because of this we have been forced to take our own private legal action."

With the Legal Aid Agency refusing "again and again" to fund the case, Mr Tipper added: "We have been made victims three times over.

"First by the bomb, then by Blair and now by the bureaucrats of the Legal Aid Agency."

Downey, from Co Donegal, was charged four years ago over the Hyde Park bombing, which he denied, but the prosecution at his trial in the Old Bailey collapsed in 2014.

The case against him was ended because government officials mistakenly sent him a letter in 2007, as part of the OTRs scheme, telling him he was no longer a wanted man.

The Household Cavalrymen of the Blues and Royals were riding through Hyde Park on their way to the Changing of the Guard when a nail bomb cut through their ranks on July 20 1982.

The deadly blast in South Carriage Drive killed Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19.

Seven horses were also killed and many others injured.

The carnage was followed less than two hours later by a second explosion in a Regent's Park bandstand which killed seven Royal Green Jackets bandsmen.

Some of the families of those affected by the second blast attended the campaign press conference to show their support to the campaign which is looking to raise £650,000 to cover the private action bill.

Speaking at the event in Westminster, attended by cross party members of the Commons and Lords, Mr Tipper said the Government does not do enough to support victims of terrorism.

He said they have been "blocked at every turn" in their fight for justice and that all they are seeking is the "truth about who murdered our loved ones".

"The only way to do that is to bring the chief suspect to court, a man who has been linked by police files to six separate terrorist attacks," Mr Tipper said.

He also called on Prime Minister Theresa May to meet with the families, and to "step in" and "do the right thing".

He said: "It's in her power, not just to help us in our fight for justice, but to do better for all victims and veterans who served this country.

"We hope she will succeed where her predecessors have failed."

Alongside her mother Judith, Sarahjane Young - the daughter of L/Cpl Young - was also at the Hyde Park Justice Campaign launch.

She said there will "never be closure" for what happened.

"We need to raise £650,000, which is a hell of a lot of money, it is hard that we have got to ask the public to donate," she said.

Mr Tipper said "there is money there" which Mrs May could make available to them.

"We have suffered long enough, I have never begged in my life, I have worked for every penny I have got... it is not nice when you are a worker and you have to resort to begging," he added.

"Any help or penny that comes in is going to help us."

Backing the campaign, Ulster Unionist Party MP Danny Kinahan told the press conference that weeks before the deadly blast he had been the best man at the wedding of Lt Daly.

He said it is an "aberration of justice that the chief suspect has not been taken to court" and that raising the funds needed for a civil action will help the families "find a way forward".

Tory MP Crispin Blunt, Labour MP Kate Hoey, and Conservative MP Colonel Bob Stewart were among many from both Houses of Parliament who are backing the campaign.

Lord Norman Tebbit was injured in the 1984 IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton at the time of the Conservative Party conference in which five people were killed.

The Tory peer, whose wife Margaret was paralysed during the Brighton bombing, said he is with the campaigners "absolutely" in bringing their own prosecution.

:: More than £28,000 has already been pledged to the Hyde Park Justice Campaign. To make a donation, visit https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/hyde-park-justice/.

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