Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars on Bloody Sunday PA Images
The Troubles

Halted prosecution of Soldier F over Bloody Sunday murders to resume

Prosecutors last year announced they were discontinuing the proceedings.

THE DISCONTINUED PROSECUTION of a British military veteran known as Soldier F for two murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 is to resume.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced that court proceeding are to recommence against the former paratrooper on two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Last year, the PPS announced a halt to the prosecution citing concerns that the case could collapse if it proceeded to trial.

However, earlier this year, the Divisional Court of the High Court in Belfast overruled that move after it was challenged by the family of one of the victims.

And earlier this month, the court rejected the PPS’s bid to have its appeal referred to the UK Supreme Court.

The PPS has now reviewed its position and has decided to resume the prosecution.

The service originally announced it was halting the prosecution of Soldier F for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney amid concerns the case could collapse in light of a separate court ruling on the admissibility of evidence which caused the collapse of another Troubles murder trial involving two military veterans.

The McKinney family then successfully challenged the original decision by prosecutors by way of judicial review.

Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest days in the history of the Northern Ireland Troubles, when members of the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 civil rights protesters in the Bogside area of Derry.

Another man shot by paratroopers on 30 January 1972 died four months later. While many consider him the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday, his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumour.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Agnew said: “The judgment delivered by the Divisional Court in March 2022 has been carefully examined and a fresh review of this case carried out.

“It has been concluded that, in order to give effect to the Divisional Court judgment, the original decision to prosecute Soldier F should stand.

“Therefore, the committal proceedings that were put on hold should now proceed.

“The PPS has written to representatives of the families and victims directly involved in the prosecution of Soldier F to confirm this decision.

“We have offered to meet with the families to answer any questions they may have and to outline the next steps to be taken to progress the case. Soldier F’s legal representatives have also been informed.

“I am very conscious of the upset caused to the Bloody Sunday families by the PPS decision to withdraw proceedings against Soldier F last year. It is our role to keep under review the evidence presented in every case.

“This case has presented difficult and complex legal issues for prosecutors, as was acknowledged by the Divisional Court. The PPS is committed to progressing court proceedings against Soldier F without any further delay.”

The Soldier F prosecution is now listed for a review hearing at Derry Magistrates’ Court on 27 September.

Mickey McKinney, brother of William McKinney, said: “We are delighted that the prosecution of Soldier F will resume next week.

“We hope that the PPS secure an early date for the resumption of the committal proceedings and that Soldier F is returned for trial to the Crown Court without further delay.

“We hope to meet with the PPS to discuss the future progress of the case in the coming weeks.”

SDLP MP Colum Eastwood has welcomed today’s decision. 

“I welcome the decision by the PPS to recommence the prosecution of Soldier F following the ruling of the High Court,” Eastwood said. 

“It’s bitterly disappointing that this case has been subject to such long delays which will have only compounded the hurt experienced by those affected, but particularly the Wray and McKinney families,” he said. 

“My thoughts are with all the Bloody Sunday families today, for decades they have fought with dignity for truth and justice for their loved ones,” the MP said. 

“The families involved in this case face a difficult period in the coming weeks as they continue their long campaign and the SDLP will stand with them as we have always done.” 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

Press Association