Belfast Telegraph

Brother of soldier killed in Hyde Park bombing ready to 'beg' for justice

The brother of a newly-wed soldier killed in the IRA's Hyde Park bombing has said he is prepared to get down on his knees to beg the Government for help funding a legal action against a suspect.

Relatives of the four Royal Household Cavalrymen murdered in the July 1982 blast are attempting to take a civil case against Co Donegal man John Downey but claim an ongoing refusal by the authorities to grant legal aid is putting the challenge at risk.

Mark Tipper, whose 19-year-old brother Simon was killed, urged Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene and stump up the cash to help their quest for the truth.

Derbyshire plumber Mr Tipper, 58, was on a visit to Belfast, where he is due to address the Ulster Unionist Party conference on Saturday.

"How much lower do they want me to sink begging, do they want me to get on my hands and knees in parliament and beg," he said.

"If that's what it takes I'll do it. I've no shame any more, I'll do it. I just want justice."

Mr Downey was charged with the Hyde Park murders and stood trial at the Old Bailey in 2013.

But the case dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former Prime Minister Tony Blair's government that he was no longer wanted.

The letter was issued under the terms of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) scheme.

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that Mr Downey's arrest at Gatwick airport, as he transited the UK on the way to a holiday, represented an abuse of process and he put a stay on any future prosecution.

Mr Downey has always denied any involvement in the attack.

The families of the murdered soldiers are now pursing a civil case against him and have served a writ signalling their intent.

But they claim a refusal by the Legal Aid Agency to fund their case is denying them their day in court.

The families have already raised almost £90,000 through an on-line crowd funding campaign but claim around £600,000 is required to pay for a civil action.

They claim the Government has the power to grant discretionary funding on public interest grounds.

Discretionary state funding was offered to relatives of Omagh bomb families when they took a landmark case against a number of republicans they claimed were behind the 1998 Real IRA outrage.

"This is not going to go away, not until the day I die," Mr Tipper insisted.

"I will keep fighting for justice for those four lads.

"Those four lads came from a proud old regiment, they were four brave men."

He added: "Unless you have been hurt by terrorists, they have taken your loved ones away, no one can understand."

"The boy had been married a week this was his first duty after honeymoon.

"You grow older and expect to be able to go for a beer together, that was took away from me.

"I have a son now, he's got no uncle.

"Poor Louise (Simon Tipper's widow), she was married just one week.

"I still speak to her now, 35 years on, a wonderful lady, how she's coped I do not know."

Trooper Tipper was killed alongside Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, and Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23.

The IRA car bomb exploded as they made their way from their Kensington barracks to a Changing Of The Guard ceremony at Horse Guards Parade.

Former Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan, a former captain in the Household Cavalry who was a close friend of Lieutenant Daly, has backed the families' campaign.

He criticised the failure to provide legal aid.

"You should really be giving funding to every case where people can't afford it, that's what legal aid is meant to do," he said.

"People have got to be given their chance of justice."

They families have asked anyone who wants to back their case to send donations to the Hyde Park Justice Campaign, Fourth Floor, 158 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9TR.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph