Bloody Sunday families ‘very disappointed’ at PPS decision not to prosecute soldiers for perjury

Ciaran Shiels of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, with John Kelly and Micky McKinney of the Bloody Sunday families in the Museum of Free Derry on Friday.Ciaran Shiels of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, with John Kelly and Micky McKinney of the Bloody Sunday families in the Museum of Free Derry on Friday.
Ciaran Shiels of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, with John Kelly and Micky McKinney of the Bloody Sunday families in the Museum of Free Derry on Friday.
The Bloody Sunday families have expressed disappointment at the decision of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) not to prosecute any British soldiers for perjury for the alleged provision of false evidence at the Saville Inquiry.

John Kelly, whose 17 years old brother Michael was murdered on Bloody Sunday, speaking on behalf of the Bloody Sunday families and wounded, said: “The families of Bloody Sunday who sit here today disappointed and perplexed by this decision not to prosecute a single soldier for perjury ask themselves rhetorically:

“‘Why is it that the people of Derry cannot forget the events of Bloody Sunday, yet the Parachute Regiment, who caused all of the deaths and injury on that day, apparently cannot recall it?’"

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Jean Hegarty’s 17-year-old brother Kevin McElhinney was among the 14 people who lost their lives as a result of the actions of the British Parachute Regiment on January 30, 1972.

Ciaran Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, with members of the Bloody Sunday families in the Museum of Free Derry. The families have said they are ‘very disappointed’ at the PPS decision not to prosecute any British soldiers for the alleged provision of false evidence to the Saville Inquiry.Ciaran Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, with members of the Bloody Sunday families in the Museum of Free Derry. The families have said they are ‘very disappointed’ at the PPS decision not to prosecute any British soldiers for the alleged provision of false evidence to the Saville Inquiry.
Ciaran Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, with members of the Bloody Sunday families in the Museum of Free Derry. The families have said they are ‘very disappointed’ at the PPS decision not to prosecute any British soldiers for the alleged provision of false evidence to the Saville Inquiry.

The decision, she said, represented ‘more disappointment’ for the Bloody Sunday families.

"You think you’d get used to it but you don't. It's still heart-breaking,” she said.

Mickey McKinney’s brother William was shot dead in Glenfada Park.

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"It is disappointing. I think the whole thing has been dragged out. It has been played out,” he remarked.

Members of the Bloody Sunday families have expressed disappointment at the decision of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) not to prosecute any British soldiers for perjury for the alleged provision of false evidence at the Saville Inquiry.Members of the Bloody Sunday families have expressed disappointment at the decision of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) not to prosecute any British soldiers for perjury for the alleged provision of false evidence at the Saville Inquiry.
Members of the Bloody Sunday families have expressed disappointment at the decision of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) not to prosecute any British soldiers for perjury for the alleged provision of false evidence at the Saville Inquiry.

Ciaran Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, said the families were ‘very disappointed’ at the decision.

“It is of course regrettable that this decision has been communicated to us only today, some 14 years after the Inquiry’s unequivocal findings, but less than two weeks before the effective enactment date of the morally bankrupt Legacy legislation,” he declared.

Mr. Shiels said Madden & Finucane will ‘carefully consider the reasons we have received today and do not rule out the prospect of further legal action’.

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Mickey McKinney, brother of Bloody Sunday victim William, 'bitterly disappointed...

The PPS confirmed it had taken the decision not to prosecute 16 individuals in relation to allegations of false evidence relating to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

The PSNI previously submitted an investigation file to the PPS in relation to allegations of murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday.

Those reported included former soldiers and alleged members of the Official IRA and a decision to prosecute one soldier, known as Soldier F, issued in 2019.

At the time, the PPS explained that consideration would also then be given as to whether the Test for Prosecution was met in respect of allegations that those reported had given false evidence in connection with the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

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The prosecution team, which included senior independent counsel, has now carefully considered all the available evidence in the investigation file and the content of the Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in respect of allegations of the giving of false evidence, the PPS said.

It has determined the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of any suspect considered, which include 15 former soldiers and one former alleged member of the Official IRA.

PPS Senior Public Prosecutor John O’Neill said: “All decisions on whether or not to prosecute are taken by independently and impartially applying the Test for Prosecution.

"The standard of proof needed for a criminal prosecution is high. For a conviction, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt, through available and admissible evidence, the commission of a criminal offence by the suspect.

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“After careful consideration, it has been concluded that the available evidence in this case is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction of any suspect for offences in relation to the giving of false evidence.

“The decision making involved the consideration of a vast amount of material. Consideration of the allegations of false evidence presented particularly complex evidential and legal issues, all of which were thoroughly analysed by the prosecution team.

“Three particular issues arose. Firstly, although the Bloody Sunday Inquiry may have rejected the evidence of individuals, it did not always express those findings in terms amounting to the criminal standard of proof.

"That is the standard which the PPS must consider. Secondly, many of the findings related to the rejection of accounts given by former soldiers in 1972.

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"The PPS has concluded that, for a number of legal reasons, those accounts from 1972 would not be admissible in criminal proceedings today.

"Thirdly, the full amount of evidence upon which the Bloody Sunday Inquiry based its findings is not generally available to the prosecution today. Issues arise in respect of the admissibility of evidence and its availability, since not all witnesses who provided evidence to the Inquiry provided witness statements to the PSNI.

“I wish to make clear that these decisions not to prosecute in no way undermine the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers.

“We acknowledge that these prosecutorial decisions will be disappointing to the victims and families involved, and that this may be another difficult day for them.

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"We have written to them to explain in detail the reasons for the decisions. We would like to provide assurance that these decisions were taken impartially, independently and only after the most thorough and careful consideration of all available evidence and the relevant legal issues.”

The PPS confirmed the decisions announced on Friday were in relation to murders and attempted murders on Bloody Sunday issued in respect of 19 reported individuals, 17 former soldiers and two alleged former members of the Official IRA, on March 14, 2019.

Two of these former soldiers have since died, as has one of the alleged Official IRA members.

The decisions issuing on Friday relate to 15 former soldiers and one former alleged Official IRA member.

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Mr. Shiels said Madden & Finucane will be ‘working all weekend’ to consider any potential actions they might take.

“Firstly judicial review is the only legal remedy that we have had to use...take them to court, bring them before the divisional court, lodge a judicial review, argue it and win it. But you know how long that takes,” he said.