High Court, London

High Court, London

The brother of a man shot dead on Bloody Sunday has said a legal attempt to halt the murder investigation will fail.

Seven ex-paratroopers have launched a High Court bid challenging the PSNI’s investigation into the Bloody Sunday deaths following the arrest of a 66-year-old former Lance Corporal on Tuesday.

Philip Barden and James Dunn, of Devonshires solicitors based in London, applied for a judicial review of the way police are conducting their inquiry.

They claim that the murder investigation is being pursued for “political reasons” and have called into question the legality of it.

On Wednesday the solicitors acting for the seven men – referred to by Lord Saville as soldiers B, N, O, Q, R, U and V – served emergency proceedings against the PSNI in the High Court in London as a response to the arrest of ‘Soldier J’, who is being questioned over three deaths after being held on suspicion of murder.

He was released on bail pending further enquiries.

It is understood that lawyers acting for the former soldiers have argued that it would be illegal to arrest any of the soldiers at their homes without notice and remove them to custody in Northern Ireland.

They have requested that the soldiers are given 24 hours’ notice of any arrest, so that they can attend a local police station by appointment.

They have also argued that the murder investigation is politically motivated and should be subject to judicial review.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was murdered as he stood in front of Rossville Flats in Londonderry in January 1972, accused them of trying to derail the investigation.

However, it is understood the investigation would only be impacted if the High Court decides to make an order granting interim relief.

A number of other suspects in the investigation are not part of this legal action, most notably Soldier F, who the Saville Inquiry found to have killed four of the victims including Michael Kelly, Barney McGuigan and Paddy Doherty and an unidentified man in Glenfada Park. The investigation in to the 1972 killings was launched in 2012, however, under the judicial guidelines it states that a claim must be filed no later than three months after the grounds to make the claim first arose.

Mr Kelly (64), an education and outreach officer at the Free Derry museum in the Bogside, said the ex-paratroopers were “trying to run away from justice”.

“I think these soldiers have now realised that they are going to get a knock on the door,” he said. “I believe they thought this would never happen and now this has kicked in and they have decided to do something about it.

“This is to create another stumbling block to the investigation with the possibility of them stopping it altogether but it’s unstoppable no matter what they throw in front of it.

“What happened on Tuesday was great for the families and the fact they are putting forward this judicial review shows me that they are afraid to face the inevitable.”

Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane who represent the majority of the families of the deceased said they have notified the High Court in London that they wish to be joined as a party to the proceedings.

He told the Belfast Telegraph “The reality is that these people have known that they were suspects in this murder investigation since Lord Saville delivered his report and latterly since the murder investigation was publicly announced and the suggestion that they ought to be given notice of their impending arrest, or treated differently to any other citizen suspected of murder, is frankly ridiculous.”

The Belfast Telegraph