Police dismiss reports of new murder probe on 1000 soldiers

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton says no new probe into Troubles service personnel is happening. Pic: Pacemaker.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton says no new probe into Troubles service personnel is happening. Pic: Pacemaker.

The PSNI has dismissed media reports that there is to be a new Troubles investigation into as many as 1000 former service personnel.

As many as 1,000 former servicemen could be treated as murder or manslaughter suspects as part of a multi-million pound review, the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday.

The PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) will look at all 238 fatal incidents in which 302 people, many of them terrorists, died, it claimed.

DUP Policing Board member Joanne Bunting raised the claims later on Thursday at the board.

“If these reports are true, it is very alarming particularly within the Unionist community who will see this as pandering to Sinn Fein’s demands,” she said,

“We have seen in the past the disastrous on the run deal and the hurt that it caused to families and innocent victims, who watched perpetrators of murders, bombings and shootings, getting away on a get out of jail card. Now we see this fresh witch hunt on British Troops, many of whom are now pensioners.” The Policing Board had not been made aware of the “ridiculous” decision, she said.

However the PSNI issued a statement insisting that there is no new probe. ACC Mark Hamilton, Head of the PSNI’s Legacy and Justice Department, said: “There is no new single probe or bespoke inquiry into deaths attributed to the British Army. All Troubles related deaths will be reviewed by LIB using the Case Sequencing Model which does not prioritise military cases. This is not a new decision. If there is a political decision to establish a Historical Inquiries Unit, LIB’s responsibilities will pass to it.”

Ms Bunting welcomed the clarification and said she would put questions to the Chief Constable to “help assuage any fears which may still exist and will allow him to be on the public record”.