Posted on March 4, 2019
Johnny Mercer, who is also a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee, believes the question of whether there’s any new evidence is “critical”.
He was commenting on a report that a number of former servicemen could soon face murder charges in connection with Bloody Sunday, where thirteen people were shot dead by British Paratroopers on the streets of Londonderry in January 1972. A 14th died four months later in hospital.
According to the Daily Telegraph, four former paratroopers, who are now in their 60s and 70s, fear they are going to face these charges. It is believed that prosecutors are going to meet the families of those killed, before making a statement about whether the former soldiers will stand trial.
Johnny Mercer MP, who has served in Afghanistan and on tours of Northern Ireland, tweeted his outrage at the suggestion that veterans can be charged so long after the event: “Justice? I’m not sure. Standards must be upheld, but charging people almost half a century after incidents which have already been investigated once already, seems wrong. Critical question for me is: any new evidence? If not, why is this being allowed”
One of the former sergeants, who can be identified only as Sergeant O, told the paper: “I am in my late 70s. I am in God’s waiting room. There is not a lot they can do to me. They could put me in jail and at least I’ll get a bed and medical attention.”
The recent death of one of those under investigation prompted calls for the investigations and any legal proceedings to be brought to a conclusion soon. Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday, said she was “disappointed”. “If they decided they are going to prosecute then that’s going to take a couple of years more to get them to trial,” she said. “There are concerns that I might not be here to see it and it would be very important to me. Probably a lot of the families have those same concerns.”
The Public Prosecution Service, in Northern Ireland, has dismissed media reports suggesting knowledge of the likely outcome of its deliberations on the Londonderry shootings, a spokeswoman said: “This is a wholly speculative article which is likely to cause significant and undue distress to the Bloody Sunday families. The PPS is currently making arrangements for the communication of its decisions to all parties on March 14 2019. We will not be providing any information in relation to prosecutorial matters in the intervening period.”