Belfast Telegraph

Review sought by solicitor acting for 15 former military personnel

By Rebecca Black

A London law firm wants an independent review of recent decisions to pursue former soldiers over a number of Troubles deaths.

Devonshires Solicitors is currently representing up to 15 former soldiers facing prosecution for a number of killings.

Lawyer Philip Barden said his clients and other former soldiers had serious concerns.

"They do feel that the process is unfair," he told the BBC.

"These are soldiers whose shootings were investigated at the time they took place and the then director of public prosecutions took a decision, based upon the evidence that was then available, that no action would be taken against them. They've got on with their lives, their memories have faded, and now after, in some cases more than 40 years, they face the prospect of being prosecuted, and they feel that it is very prejudicial for them and they are very concerned by it.

"Justice must be seen to be done, and I think in these circumstances it would help everybody if someone such as a senior judge were to be instructed by the Government to review the processes and procedures that have been put in place."

Members of regular regiments of the Army killed 302 people during the Troubles. More than half of them were civilians.

Comparatively the IRA murdered 1,800 people and loyalists 1,027.

In December it emerged that two retired soldiers had become the first to be charged with murder in connection with a Troubles death.

They are being prosecuted over the killing of Official IRA commander Joe McCann, who was shot dead in Belfast in 1972.

The investigation was branded a witch-hunt by Conservative MP Johnny Mercer.

The Police and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) say cases involving allegations against former soldiers are treated in the same way as all others.

The PPS says all of its decisions are reached after careful consideration of the case according to the Code of Prosecutors.

In a statement issued last month, it said: "The Public Prosecution Service only applies the law as it currently stands in Northern Ireland and does so without fear, favour or prejudice."

Belfast Telegraph


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