'Sufficient evidence to prosecute Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney'

Jim Wray and William McKinney. Soldier F is to be prosecuted for their murder on Bloody Sunday.
Jim Wray and William McKinney. Soldier F is to be prosecuted for their murder on Bloody Sunday.

The PPS has outlined the reasons for its decision to prosecute one former British soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney; and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said: “An experienced team of senior prosecutors assisted by Senior Counsel has given careful consideration to all of the available evidence in these cases and applied the Test for Prosecution, in line with the PPS Code for Prosecutors.

“It has been concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney; and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

“In respect of the other 18 suspects, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members, it has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. In these circumstances the evidential Test for Prosecution is not met.”

The decisions announced today relate only to allegations of criminal conduct on Bloody Sunday itself. Consideration will now be given to allegations of perjury in respect of those suspects reported by police.

Reflecting on his meeting with the families the Director added: “I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely difficult day for many of them.

"We wanted to meet with them personally to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons. We have spent time with them this morning, given them detailed information and we are committed to further engagement over the coming period.

“There has been a level of expectation around the prosecution decisions in light of the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. However, much of the material which was available for consideration by the Inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply.

“I wish to clearly state that where a decision has been reached not to prosecute, that this is in no way diminishes any finding by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers.

“We recognise the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today. As prosecutors we are required to be wholly objective in our approach. However, that does not mean that we do not have compassion for all those who are affected by our decisions.

"Our role is to independently assess the available evidence and apply the Test for Prosecution. We are making a summary of the reasons for our decisions available today to provide assurance to the public that our statutory responsibility was undertaken in this case with absolute integrity and impartiality, without fear or favour.”