Police witnesses to give evidence behind screens

 

Police witnesses giving evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry can do so screened from public view, a court ruled today.

Three Appeal Court judges in Belfast rejected a bid by a sister of one of the

13 people shot dead by troops in Derry in January 30 1972 to overturn an earlier ruling that 20 past and present officers could be screened.

Last February Mr Justice Kerr ruled that officers fears for their safety "were not manufactured" but were based on two risk assessments.

The appeal judges headed by Lord Justice Nicholson unanimously agreed in their reserved judgment today.

Lord Justice Nicholson said if the officers gave evidence in open court without screening "the risk is that from that point in time a plan may be put into effect to target one or more of them" and an attempt may be made on their lives once the inquiry had finished its task.

Despite being screened from public view, the officers will be named openly and their evidence heard in the public gallery.

They will also be visible to inquiry chairman Lord Saville and his two colleagues and to the various lawyers representing the families, police and military witnesses.

The police witnesses are expected to begin giving their evidence next week.

PA