Paul Whitters’ file is ‘heavily censored’

Concerns have been raised over the decision to censor a newly released British government file on the death of a Derry schoolboy during the Troubles.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 3:00 pm
Fifteen years old Paul Whitters pictured with his baby brother Aidan shortly before he (Paul) was killed by a rubber bullet in Derry on April 15, 1981.

Paul Whitters (15) was fatally wounded when he was hit in the head by a plastic bullet fired by a RUC man during rioting in the city in April 1981.

Earlier this week, a previously classified file was made available to the public at the National Archives in London.

However, according to human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), only half of the file has actually been released.

The PFC’s Paul O’Connor says the released document contains just 82 pages from the original file with a further 81 pages withheld.

“What is there to hide?”, asked Mr O’Connor.

In 2007, a report by the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, found it had been “wrong and unjustified” to fire at Paul, and the shooting was “clearly not consistent with RUC rules”. She also found that his death had not been properly investigated.

Tony Brown, an uncle of Paul Whitters, said this week: “At a meeting with Secretary of State Karen Bradley in 2019, the family was urged to go down the Freedom of Information route and officials stated that there would be maximum disclosure.

“The opposite is the case. Half of the file, 81 pages, has been withheld and is marked classified until 2059. What is in those 81 pages?

“We can assure the authorities that we’ve no intention of going away or giving up.”

The NIO was contacted for comment.