The government said yesterday that its sympathies remain with those affected by the 1982 Hyde Park bombings – and that their appeal to be granted legal aid to fight for justice is still under review.
Speaking in the House of Commons, UUP MP Tom Elliott flagged up the campaign launch about to take place.
“This afternoon in Parliament, the families of four British soldiers murdered by the IRA in the Hyde Park bomb are launching their campaign to bring the chief suspect of the atrocity, John Downey, to justice and to ensure that no terrorist is ever allowed to act with impunity within the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Will the secretary of state meet members and peers who support the victims’ campaign to consider the government making exceptional funding available to remedy a situation in which the victims have been denied justice for 35 years?”
Whitehall Minister of Justice Sir Oliver Heald replied: “May I say that our deepest sympathies remain with those affected by the dreadful Hyde Park bombings? Those terrible terrorist atrocities were really dreadful for the nation at the time.
“Decisions on legal aid in such cases are made through an independent process. A fresh determination was given by the Legal Aid Agency on February 2, but my understanding is that there is a right of review and that the case is still ongoing with the agency. I therefore cannot comment further at this time, and a decision would have to be made before any meetings occurred.”
Speaking later, UUP MP Danny Kinahan said that “disgracefully the families have twice been denied legal aid”, adding that it is “time that the government removed the final obstacle” for a trial to be held in the case.
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