PSNI ‘legally obliged’ to investigate Bloody Sunday shootings

Comments follow call by former head of the British Army to stop to ‘macabre’ inquiry

Family members of those shot dead and wounded on Bloody Sunday in June 2010, making  their way from the Bogside to the Guild Hall ahead of the publication of the Bloody Sunday inquiry report in Derry. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Family members of those shot dead and wounded on Bloody Sunday in June 2010, making their way from the Bogside to the Guild Hall ahead of the publication of the Bloody Sunday inquiry report in Derry. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A senior detective has said police in Northern Ireland are legally obliged to investigate Bloody Sunday.

This comes after the former head of the British Army urged the Government to put a stop to the “macabre charade” that could see Northern Ireland veterans facing legal action.

Lord Bramall said it was “absurd and grossly unfair” that soldiers who took part in the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, during which 14 innocent people died, should be questioned by police now.

He accused the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) of “harrying” veterans in a “desperate attempt to bring criminal charges” in a piece in the Daily Telegraph.

PSNI detective superintendent Ian Harrison, from the Legacy Investigation Branch, said: “Following the publication of the Saville Inquiry an investigation commenced into the actions of a range of people involved in Bloody Sunday, which, as a police service, we have a legal obligation to do.

“This lengthy and complex investigation into the events of January 30 1972 is being carried out by a team of highly professional and competent detectives who will, without fear or favour, follow all investigative opportunities.

“As with any police investigation, this work is being conducted in accordance with statutory responsibilities and the PSNI code of ethics.”

Prosecutors have been examining files of evidence against ex-British soldiers who were on the streets of Derry in 1972 when the Parachute Regiment shot and fatally wounded 14 civil rights demonstrators.

The new head of the armed forces has spoken out about Northern Ireland veterans being “chased by people making vexatious claims” of wrongdoing, vowing: “That will not happen on my watch.”

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter praised the “remarkable job” done by the British Army in Northern Ireland and said groundless allegations against soldiers risked undermining the Army’s fighting spirit.

He promised that soldiers facing any investigation would be looked after “to the best of our ability”.

MPs have called on the Government to introduce a statute of limitations to end what some claim is a “witch hunt” against members of the armed forces in Northern Ireland, although official statistics appear to undermine the claim.

A consultation document issued by Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles does not include provision for a statute of limitations, to the anger of many Conservative MPs.

But Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged to look at “all options” to protect veterans from legacy investigations. - PA