Judge quashes decision not to proceed with Soldier F Bloody Sunday prosecution

Families of the victims of Bloody Sunday had challenged a number of decisions not to prosecute taken by the North's Public Prosecution Service
Judge quashes decision not to proceed with Soldier F Bloody Sunday prosecution

Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A decision by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to discontinue a murder prosecution of Soldier F for two deaths on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 has been quashed at the High Court in Belfast.

Delivering the ruling, Lady Chief Justice Mrs Siobhan McKeegan said the decision by the PPS not to continue the prosecution “crossed the threshold of irrationality”.

The PPS announced last year it was discontinuing the prosecution of Soldier F for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney amid concerns the case could collapse in light of a separate court ruling on the admissibility of evidence which caused the collapse of another Troubles murder trial involving two military veterans.

The McKinney family then launched a judicial review to challenge the PPS decision.

Bloody Sunday 50th anniversary
Flowers at a Bloody Sunday memorial (Brian Lawless/PA)

Delivering the verdict on Wednesday, the Lady Chief Justice said: “We consider that the decision crosses the threshold of irrationality where it simply does not add up, or in other words there is an error of reasoning which robs the decision of logic.

“It follows that the matter should remain with the PPS to reconsider the decision.

“There has already been considerable delay in the criminal process and so it may be that the swiftest and most effective course is actually for the district judge to be asked to rule on the admissibility issue in the first instance.

“It may be that public confidence in the interests of justice are best served by a definitive judicial determination on this issue by a court properly seized of the merits.

“The PPS will now have to decide on the next steps.”

However, judicial reviews taken by a number of other Bloody Sunday families to challenge the PPS not to take prosecutions against five other soldiers were dismissed by the court.

The Lady Chief Justice said she considered there was “no error in law” in these decisions.

Bloody Sunday marked one of the darkest days of the Troubles, with British soldiers shooting dead 13 civil rights protestors in the Bogside area of Derry.

Another man shot by paratroopers on January 30th, 1972 died four months later.

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