Media reaction: The view from UK newspapers

The Saville report forced even right-wing British newspapers into acknowledging that the paratroopers were wrong.

The Saville report forced even right-wing British newspapers into acknowledging that the paratroopers were wrong.

The Daily Mailsaid the report has left "an indelible stain on the reputation of the British Army". Urging readers to remember the mood on the streets of the time, it said the paratroopers had "lost their discipline and self-control", before complaining bitterly about the cost of the inquiry.

However, columnist Max Hastings held to its usual caustic line on matters Irish, saying that “no nation on Earth possesses a talent promoting its grievances to match that of the Irish”.

“However frank is Lord Saville’s report, it would be rash to anticipate much Irish goodwill or gratitude for it. Republicans do not do goodwill,” said Hastings.

The Daily Telegraph, which did much at the time to promote the paratroopers' versions of events, equally opposed prosecutions, saying that "this tragic chapter should now be closed".

Saville's findings that the paratroopers had lost control were "blunt facts", said the Telegraph, before accepting Prime Minister David Cameron's judgment not to attempt to "defend the indefensible".

In its editorial, the London Timesapprovingly quoted Conor Cruise O'Brien's 1993 statements that Sinn Féin and the IRA had incited demonstrators to attack troops in the hope of propaganda gains from casualties. "O'Brien's judgment was unsparing, undiplomatic and true," said the newspaper, though it added that the paratroopers had fallen "horrifying short" of the standards expected of them.

Preferring to lead its paper with a story about the sacking of an ITV World Cup pundit for giving tickets to touts, the Sunsaid "nothing would be achieved, though, by dragging soldiers into court 38 years on.

“We emptied the prisons of IRA murderers as the price of reconciliation after the Good Friday Agreement. How could we jail squaddies after freeing IRA killers,” it asked, in an editorial.

However, the Guardianheld to the opposite view: "If the evidence permits, which at this distance it may not, those who killed the innocent in Derry in 1972 should be prosecuted. No amount of political convenience should be permitted to stand in the way of justice."