‘sunday’ claim talks soon

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Compensation talks between lawyers for the Bloody Sunday families and the British Ministry of Defence could begin as early as next week, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, who represent over 20 of the families and wounded, said yesterday: “The Ministry of Defence have now written to us indicating that they wish to settle all issues concerning compensation in the near future...discussions will shortly commence with Ministry of Defence representatives in order to resolve the issue.”

“There is nothing unusual about the payment of proper compensation in a case like this,” Mr Madden added, citing the example of the recent compensation paid by the British government to the family of Baha Mousa and nine other Iraqi men assaulted or killed by British soldiers in Basra in 2003.

Mr Madden also rejected claims that the current case means that some families would be compensated twice. “In 1974, ex-gratia payments of compensation were made to the victims of Bloody Sunday,” he said. “The amounts paid were based on the flawed conclusions of Lord Widgery and were derisory and wholly inappropriate in amount. The victims will not, therefore, be compensated ‘twice’, as has been claimed by some commentators.”

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the British government intend to pay compensation to the families and wounded. Over 20 families represented by Madden & Finucane have declined to comment on the compensation case. “This is a private matter between the families and the Ministry of Defence,” one relative said.

The family of William Nash, who died, and his father Alex, who was shot going to the aid of his son, have so far been the only family to comment on the issue. “It is repulsive, offensive,” Linda Nash said yesterday.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the MoD accepted that members of the armed forces had acted wrongly on Bloody Sunday and that the government was “deeply sorry”. The statement also confirmed that compensation would be paid “where there is a legal liability to do so”.