Belfast Telegraph

We are victims three times over, say families of soldiers killed in Hyde Park bomb

By Georgina Stubbs

Families of soldiers killed in the IRA bombing in London's Hyde Park said they have been made victims "three times over" in the years since the atrocity.

Relatives of some of the members of the Royal Household Cavalry who died in the 1982 attack have launched a campaign as they try to raise £650,000 to cover the costs of a private civil case.

Mark Tipper, whose 19-year-old brother died in the blast, blamed former Labour prime minister Tony Blair for a "shameful and secret deal" which allowed convicted IRA member John Downey to walk free.

Under the controversial on the runs scheme (OTRs) - allegedly agreed by Mr Blair's Labour government and Sinn Fein - individuals were told they were not being sought by the authorities.

"The chief suspect walked free from the Old Bailey because of a shameful and secret deal by Tony Blair with the IRA," Mr Tipper said. "Because of this we have been forced to take our own private legal action."

With the Legal Aid Agency refusing "again and again" to fund the case, Mr Tipper added: "We have been made victims three times over. First by the bomb, then by Blair and now by the bureaucrats of the Legal Aid Agency."

Mr Tipper said the Government does not do enough to support victims of terrorism. He said they have been "blocked at every turn" in their fight for justice and that all they are seeking is the "truth about who murdered our loved ones."

Downey, from Co Donegal, was charged four years ago over the Hyde Park bombing, which he denied, but the prosecution at his trial in the Old Bailey collapsed in 2014.

The case against him was ended because government officials mistakenly sent him a letter in 2007, as part of the OTRs scheme, telling him he was no longer a wanted man. Among those at the Hyde Park Justice Campaign launch in Westminster were Brighton bomb survivor Lord Tebbit and Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan who said the Government must listen to the victims of the atrocity.

"Today MPs and Peers from across Parliament showed solidarity with the Hyde Park victims who, 35 years on, have still not received justice", the South Antrim MP said.

"In 2014, the families felt they were on the cusp of seeing John Downey held to account, only for him to pull out a comfort letter sent to him by the Government which prevented him from being prosecuted in a criminal court.

"The families have bravely fought on and now want to bring civil proceedings against John Downey. The families have waited far too long for justice, it is time that the Government removed the final obstacle for John Downey to be held to account."

The Household Cavalrymen of the Blues and Royals were riding through Hyde Park when a nail bomb exploded, killing four.

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