‘Strip Wilford of award’

Lt Col. Derek Wilford pictured at his home in Belguim. (2206MM12)
Lt Col. Derek Wilford pictured at his home in Belguim. (2206MM12)
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Foyle MP Mark Durkan has renewed his call for a paratrooper who commanded soldiers who murdered marchers on Bloody Sunday to be stripped of his OBE.

Mr Durkan called on Richard Tilbrook, head of the Honours and Appointments Secretariat in London to withdraw the honour given to Lt. Colonel Derek Wilford, commander of the 1st Parachute battalion, which was less than nine months after the massacre.

Col. Wilford was strongly criticised in the Saville report into the events of Bloody Sunday for expressly disobeying an order given to him by his superior, Brigadier Pat MacLellan, not to send his troops into the Bogside and not to conduct a running battle with protestors.

The Para commander disobeyed both orders and ordered his troops into the Bogside where they killed 14 innocent people.

“I firmly believe that the removal of the honour conferred on Derek Wilford after Bloody Sunday is long overdue,” Mr Durkan said.

“His conduct on that day and his account since were clearly indicted in the Saville Report,” he added.

He made the call ahead of a debate on the recently published Hillsborough report amid calls that a number of people associated with the stadium disaster should also be stripped of their awards.

Mr Durkan said excuses which had previously been given for not stripping Col. Wilford of his award no long apply.

“In the past Ministers had contended that forfeiture of an honour could only arise when a person had been convicted. The Fred Goodwin case - the former RBS Chief Executive - shows that this is now not the case,” he said.

Mr Durkan also supported the calls of the Hillsborough campaigners and acknowledged their gratitude to the Bloody Sunday families for advice given ahead of the recent publication of the report.

“Similarly, I believe that there is an overwhelming case to consider withdrawing those honours held by those whose conduct and false accounts have been indicted by the Hillsborough Panel’s exposure of the scandalous syndicate of deceit.

“It would be wrong if the compelling case for forfeiture arising from one report whose findings have been fully and articulately accepted by the Prime Minister was not equally applied to the other,” he said.

Relatives of those murdered on Bloody Sunday have also previously called for Col. Wilford, who is now living in Belguim, to be stripped of his OBE. Following the publication of the Saville Report calls were also made for him to be questioned by police.