Hyde Park bomb relatives welcome Corbyn letter but add he has much to prove
The family of a man killed in the Hyde Park bombing have welcomed an apparent pledge by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to support their campaign for justice.
Mr Corbyn wrote to Mark Tipper from the Hyde Park Justice Campaign, which is taking a private legal action against chief suspect John Downey, saying the government has a duty to ensure families have as much closure "as the law permits".
Mr Tipper's brother, Simon, was one of the four Household Cavalry soldiers killed in the July 1982 explosion.
Ahead of the 35th anniversary, which falls today, Mr Corbyn sent a letter stating that he "deplore(s) all acts of lethal violence which take innocent lives".
He added: "That applies to the IRA bombing campaign in the 1980s as well as acts of terrorism we have witnessed in Manchester and London in recent months..."
Mr Corbyn also acknowledged that, while necessary, the Good Friday Agreement did little to bring comfort and closure to the victims of the Troubles and it was now "the duty of government to ensure that they have such closure as the law permits".
He went on to say that "the state has a duty to do what it can, however many years have passed, to console and support the families of those who die in its service".
Law firm McCue and Partners, which is working with the families, said the letter had left relatives in "shock" given the controversy over Mr Corbyn's links to republicans in the past.
The Hyde Park families first wrote to Mr Corbyn in April, asking for Labour's support for their campaign to bring Downey to justice.
He later pledged to meet with relatives, and Mr Tipper said he hopes a date can now be set.
He said Mr Corbyn still had much to prove.
"British veterans and victims of terrorism have been appallingly treated by successive governments. Terrorists being given legal aid, and victims being denied it, are just one tragic example, as veterans are chased through the courts and the perpetrators laugh out loud," Mr Tipper added.
"We only welcome Mr Corbyn's words if they are true, and proven by his actions. He has much trust to regain - but his support in our campaign is a starting point."
Mr Tipper added that requests for a meeting with Theresa May's government have gone ignored.
The 1982 Hyde Park attack killed Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Trooper Simon Tipper and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young.
Downey always denied involvement. In 2013 he was arrested and charged with the murders and bombing. The prosecution collapsed in 2014 after it emerged government officials mistakenly sent him a letter in 2007, as part of a controversial On The Runs scheme, telling him he was no longer a wanted man.
Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan, who served in the Household Cavalry with Lt Daly, said: "I obviously welcome the letter from Jeremy Corbyn to the Hyde Park Justice Campaign, in which he offers a greater degree of support than has thus far been the case."
He added, however: "In welcoming his comments I am somewhat puzzled as to why he refers specifically to the IRA campaign of the 1980s, and not in its entirety, given that atrocities were also committed in the 1970s, and 1990s, but this is at least some progress."