Belfast Telegraph

Murdered soldier's family starts civil action against Sinn Fein politician

The family of a UDR soldier murdered by the IRA more than 40 years ago has launched civil action against a Sinn Fein politician in connection with the killing.

Stormont MLA Ian Milne, a former IRA prisoner, has been served with a legal notice by the family of James Speer, who was shot dead in Co Londonderry in November 1976.

Mr Speer, a 46 year-old father-of-three, was working in his garage when he was shot in the head by an IRA gang in November 1976.

An inquest has never been held into his death.

The family has now decided to launch civil proceedings against Mr Milne in connection with the murder.

A lawyer for Mr Speer's family told the Press Association: "I can confirm a writ has been served on behalf of the Speer family."

Mr Milne has denied any involvement.

His lawyer, Padraig O Muirigh, said: "Our client strongly refutes the allegations made by the plaintiffs to this action and will robustly defend these proceedings.

"Given that these proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Mr Milne replace Francie Molly as MLA for Mid Ulster after the Sinn Fein man won the race for the late Martin McGuinness's seat at Westminster.

Unionists reacted with fury when Mr Milne, a convicted terrorist, was appointed to Stormont.

He was once dubbed one of the "three most wanted men" by the Army and police, and became notorious when he escaped from Portlaoise Prison in 1974.

In 1977 he was sentenced to life for murder. He served time at Long Kesh where he participated in the blanket protest. He was released in 1992.

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