Coroner to rule on secret war office files

British army victim Seamus Bradley is pictured on the poster. His brother, Danny Bradley is third from left.
British army victim Seamus Bradley is pictured on the poster. His brother, Danny Bradley is third from left.

The Coroner in the inquest into the death of Seamus Bradley, an IRA volunteer shot dead by the British army in Derry during Operation Motorman in July 1972, will decide what information from a closed war office file is made public.

The revelation came after a preliminary hearing in connection with a new inquest that was ordered by the Attorney General John Larkin into the death took place in Belfast on February 12.

At this hearing solicitors representing the Bradley family were told that they would be receiving further material from the National Archives shortly.

The legal team were also informed that the information contained in a ‘closed war office file’ had been provided to the Coroner by the Crown Solicitor’s office and that this material would be reviewed by the Coroner.

Whether or not this information will be disclosed to the legal teams involved in the inquest will be a matter for the Coroner to decide.

Most of the files relating to the conflict in the North held by the Ministry of Defence have been sealed until much later in the century.

Another issue considered at the preliminary hearing was the redactions to documents provided by the Ministry of Defence to the Coroner’s office.

Questions raised by the Coroner about these redactions will be answered by the PSNI and the British Ministry of Defence within a matter of weeks.

It is also planned for the Coroner to meet with officials from the Ministry of Defence to address the redactions in the documents.

The hearing also heard that there are identity issues around the two soldiers identified solely as Soldier A and B.

Initially it was thought that both these soldiers were dead but the hearing was told that it is now believed that Soldier A may be alive.

The hearing also heard that there is still some confusion about the identity of Soldier B who is identified in a HET report as Soldier 1.

Seamus Bradley was one of two people shot dead as the British army mounted a major operation to end the no-go areas in Derry in July 1972.

There have long been questions over the exact circumstances surrounding the shooting of Seamus Bradley with persistent rumours that the teenager had been shot and wounded before being taken away and tortured before his death.

A new inquest has been ordered and counsel for Danny Bradley the dead man’s brother told the first hearing that there was a belief that soldiers had been told they would not face prosecution for any deaths that occurred during Operation Motorman.

Also a recently released autopsy report revealed that Mr. Bradley had been shot four times which contradicts the initial statements from the soldiers claiming he was shot twice. Other wounds on the body have not been explained.