Soldier F allowed to retain anonymity because of threat from dissident republicans
Soldier F, the only former soldier charged in connection with the killings on Bloody Sunday, has been allowed to retain his anonymity due to the fact he would be a “prime target” for anyone seeking vengeance.
The former member of the Parachute regiment is currently facing a preliminary enquiry to see if he should be returned for trial on two murder charges and five attempted murders on January 30, 1972.
Giving judgement on an application to review Soldier F’s anonymity, District Judge Ted Magill said the former soldier had enjoyed anonymity in regards to the Widgery Tribunal in 1972, the Saville Inquiry and in respect of these proceedings since September 2019.
He said threat assessments had been carried out in July 2019 and again on March 24, 2021 and these found that Soldier F was at “low” risk from dissident republicans both here and in England.
However, he said this threat level could rise if F should be denied anonymity.
The judge accepted the evidence of Alan McQuillan, former assistant chief constable of the PSNI as that of an expert who had painted “a very grave picture” of the security forces having been “able to effect one or two disruptions of terrorist activity every three days”.
Judge Magill said the former PSNI officer had said that Soldier F “would have to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life” as he would be a target for dissident republicans.
Mr McQuillan claimed that Sinn Fein would have great difficulty criticising an attack on Soldier F “such are the feelings of many about what took place on that awful day”.
Judge Magill said Soldier F would be “a soft target” and could be “attacked in his home”.
The judgement went on to note there had been a lot of activity on social media about the case and even calls for the death of Soldier F.
Judge Magill said that the former soldier faced a threat not only from dissident republicans “but from a lone actor, not a member of any organisation, but someone who might be prepared to carry out an attack upon a figure such as Soldier F”.
He added that Soldier F “feels genuine fear: he is right to do so. A real threat does exist.”
He stressed that the anonymity order should be maintained but said it would be reviewed prior to any trial that should arise.
The hearing of the preliminary enquiry has been adjourned while the prosecution reviews the decision to prosecute Soldier F.