Belfast Telegraph

Man shot on Bloody Sunday by soldier awarded £350k

Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972

By Alan Erwin

A man shot in the chest by a British soldier as he tried to run to safety on Bloody Sunday is to receive £350,000 compensation.

The settlement was reached at the High Court in 68-year-old Joe Friel's claim for injuries and false allegations that he had been an armed terrorist when paratroopers opened fire in Derry in January 1972.

His lawyers described it as a "blatant, malicious and outrageous lie" which persisted until he was publicly exonerated more than 40 years later.

The payout also covers loss of earnings after he was forced to retire early from his job as a tax official due to deteriorating health.

A judge expressed hope that the resolution in the action against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will enable the father-of-three to obtain some degree of closure.

Thirteen unarmed people were killed by soldiers during a civil rights demonstration in the city.

One of the others wounded on the day, which became known as Bloody Sunday, died later.

30th January 1972: An armed soldier and a protestor on Bloody Sunday when British Paratroopers shot dead 13 civilians on a civil rights march.
30th January 1972: An armed soldier and a protestor on Bloody Sunday when British Paratroopers shot dead 13 civilians on a civil rights march.
Hugh Gilmore (third left) seen clutching his stomach as he is shot during Bloody Sunday.
A young Fr Edward Daly (now Bishop Daly) carries a blood-soaked hankie as he leads a group of men trying desperately to carry John 'Jackie' Duddy to safety. Duddy (17) was the first fatality of Bloody Sunday after being shot from behind by paratroopers
Paddy Doherty, who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
A scene showing a British paratrooper near Glenfada Park in Derry where Bloody Sunday took place.
William McKinney, killed on Bloody Sunday.
Lt Col Derek Wilford, the former commander of the members of the Parachute Regiment involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings
A protest parade in was staged in Londonderry in January to mark the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday
Hugh Gilmore who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
St Mary's Church, on the Creggan Estate, during the Requiem Mass for the 13 who died on 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry.
Michael McDaid who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
:Bloody Sunday.
Soldiers taking cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars during Bloody Sunday
Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery in his room at the Old Bailey as he looks through his report on the "Bloody Sunday" shootings
Jim Wray who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
John Young who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
William McKinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Kevin McElhinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Gerard McKinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Gerald Donaghey who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Alana Burke who was eighteen when she was run over by an armoured personnel carrier on Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday. January 1972
Patrick Doherty who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday. Funeral. Mrs Ita McKinney, 9 months pregnant cries behind the hearse carrying her husband James from St Mary's, Creggan. 2/2/1972.
Michael Kelly who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Scenes from 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry, Northern Ireland
A man receiving attention during the shooting incident in Londonderry, which became known as Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
The start of a grim day in Derry. Civil Rights marchers make their way through Creggan. They defied a Government ban and headed for Guildhall Square, but were stopped by the Army in William Street. 31/1/1972
Bloody Sunday 1972
Linda Nash carries flowers with the number 14 inscribed during yesterdays annual Bloody Sunday Parade in Derry. Picture Martin McKeown. 29.1.12
A memorial to those killed on Bloody Sunday in the Bogside area of Derry
The memorial to the 14 people who died on Bloody Sunday in Derry rises from among the sea of umbrellas as all the families came together in an ecumenical service. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights mark.The service included contributions from Father Michael Canny and Reverend David Latimer, left. Picture Martin McKeown. 29.1.12

In 2010 the Saville Inquiry into the shootings established the innocence of all of the victims.

Those findings led to David Cameron, the British Prime Minister at the time, issuing a public apology for the soldiers' actions.

He described the killings as "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Nearly £3 million has now been paid out in a series of settlements and awards made in claims against the MoD on behalf of those bereaved or injured.

With liability accepted in all cases, proceedings brought by Mr Friel centred on the level of damages.

Aged 20 on Bloody Sunday, he was shot at Glenfada Park as he tried to escape the gunfire.

The court heard he suffered chest wounds and was carried to a house where he remembers women saying the rosary, leaving him terrified that he was going to die.

Soldiers then stopped the car being used to transport him to hospital, striking the driver on the head with a rifle butt and firing a plastic baton round at another passenger who fled, it was contended.

A member of the Royal Anglian Regiment, known as Lance Corporal 104, who took the car to a military aid post later alleged Mr Friel admitted to him that he had been carrying a gun that day.

Brian Fee QC, for the plaintiff, said: "This was a blatant, malicious and outrageous lie, but it was one which was relied upon by the defendant for over 40 years until it was conclusively dismissed by Lord Saville's report in 2010."

Eventually Mr Friel was brought to Altnagelvin Hospital, where he was twice administered the Last Rites due to his condition.

During a two-week period of treatment he watched the funerals of some of those who were killed on a television rigged up with a coat hanger for an aerial.

Mr Fee insisted the false claim that his client had been an admitted gunman on Bloody Sunday formed part of the defendant's propaganda war, adding to the general vilification of those who had been shot.

With Mr Friel unable to work since his medical retirement in 1992, the court was told he still has a degree of anger and resentment at what happened.

"He was alleged to have been an armed terrorist on Bloody Sunday," Mr Fee said.

"The allegation that Joe Friel admitted he had a gun was a carefully targeted, specific, malicious lie."

Counsel also described how Lance Corporal 104 went abroad without attending the Saville Inquiry, avoiding "what should have been the day of reckoning".

Following his opening of the case further discussions led to an announcement of the resolution reached.

"The action is now settled for £350,000 and costs," Mr Fee confirmed.

Mr Justice McAlinden welcomed the outcome reached in what he said was a "very significant and very sad case".

He added: "I know it's an easy thing to say, but I hope this aspect of the case, the compensation claim, eventually enables (Mr Friel) to obtain some degree of closure."

Outside court Mr Friel's solicitor, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, said the action was unique among the Bloody Sunday litigation.

"He was the only one of those shot and injured against whom soldiers maintained an allegation that he was shot whilst handling a firearm," the lawyer said.

"That was a malicious lie which was peddled by the British Army before the Widgery Inquiry in 1972 and again before the Saville Inquiry.

"Ultimately the soldier who made the allegation failed to attend to have his evidence tested, although it was not until the publication of the Saville Report that Mr Friel was finally exonerated."

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