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Undercover soldier's brother in legal bid to have murder probed

By Alan Erwin

Published 27/04/2016

Sapper Telford Stuart was killed by the IRA in 1972
Sapper Telford Stuart was killed by the IRA in 1972

The brother of a British soldier killed by the IRA more than 40 years ago is taking legal action in a bid to have his death investigated by detectives examining a secretive army unit.

Sapper Telford Stuart was shot dead in Belfast in 1972 while undertaking a covert operation on behalf of the Military Reaction Force (MRF).

The PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) is probing allegations that members of the unit carried out random, unjustified Troubles shootings.

The dead soldier's brother Colin has issued judicial review proceedings against the Chief Constable for not including the killing in the broader investigation into the MRF's activities. His lawyers claim that it amounts to an unlawful refusal to hold a human rights-compliant inquiry into the death.

Legal papers in the case contend that the circumstances surrounding Mr Stuart's murder involve MRF actions in an operation that was compromised.

"The allegations concerning negligence and expendability also concern the planning of MRF operations by the MRF and those commanding them," Mr Stuart's legal team argued.

The LIB investigation was triggered after a referral by Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory.

Mr Stuart's killing was previously reviewed by the police service's now defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

His brother's legal team, KRW Law, claimed that this failed to comply with Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The HET examination was incapable of leading to the identification and punishment of those with responsibility for the soldier's death because of a failure to consider the role of the MRF in an operation that might have been compromised, the lawyers argued.

Although judicial review proceedings are directed at the PSNI, the Secretary of State was to feature in the case as a notice party. At the High Court yesterday it was accepted that it should instead be the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Hugh Southey QC, for Mr Stuart, said: "What is being sought in this case is an investigation into particular activities of the British Army."

On that basis Mr Justice Maguire agreed to adjourn the hearing for instructions to be taken from the MoD.

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