Belfast Telegraph

Brother of murdered British soldier set for access to police documents in investigation bid

By Alan Erwin

The brother of a British soldier killed by the IRA 46 years ago is set to gain access to police documents as part of a legal bid to have his death investigated by detectives examining a secretive army unit.

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

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is currently probing allegations that members of the unit carried out random and unjustified shootings during the Troubles.

The dead solider's brother, Colin Stuart, has brought judicial review proceedings against the Chief Constable for not including the killing in the broader investigation into MRF activities.

He claims it amounts to an unlawful refusal to hold a human rights compliant inquiry into the death.

As part of the challenge Mr Stuart's lawyers sought documents from the original RUC investigation into the killing after learning they had been reviewed before the decision not to include the murder in the MRF probe was confirmed.

His legal team believe a ruling on discovery at the High Court in Belfast today should clear the way for the files to be handed over.

Anurag Deb, legal representative from KRW Law, described it as an important milestone in the ongoing litigation.

"The court very properly found that the police cannot simply justify their decision to exclude the murder of Sapper Stuart from the MRF investigation without disclosing the documents that lie behind that decision," he said.

"We are hopeful that, subject to any further issues, we will have access to these documents in the very near future."

Papers lodged in the case contend that the circumstances surrounding Telford Stuart's murder involve MRF actions in an operation that was compromised.

Allegations concerning negligence and expendability also concern the planning of MRF operations by those commanding them, Mr Stuart's legal team contend.

The wider investigation, by the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch, was triggered after a referral by Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions.

Telford Stuart's murder has also been reviewed by the police service's now defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

But his brother's lawyer claim 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, due to a failure to consider the role of the MRF in an operation that might have been compromised, it is argued.

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