Outrage as IRA Hyde Park victims are denied legal aid

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Victims of the IRA’s Hyde Park bombing have been refused legal aid for a civil action against those they suspect were responsible - because it is not in the public interest.

John Downey, 64, was accused of murdering four soldiers and injuring 31 in the July 1982 nail bomb blast – one of the terror group’s most notorious mainland atrocities.

In 2014 Downey had argued at the Old Bailey that he had received a clear written assurance from the government that he would not be tried for the bombing, which was accepted by the judge.

Now in a ruling that has sparked outrage, the Legal Aid Agency threw out the families’ bid for £150,000 of taxpayers’ money to fund their own fight for justice.

Sarah Young, the daughter of L/Cpl Young, is spearheading the push for the private prosecution. She applied for legal aid to help fund the case last August with the full backing of all the victims’ families.

Miss Young, 38, recalled: “The last vision I ever had of my dad was he turned to me and smiled as he went through the door. I can see the men, the soldiers, running back into the barracks, shouting.”

She added: “Once again the victims’ families are left devastated by our own government.

“To suggest an Army charity could help fund a civil action is insulting and disgusting. To also say it is not in the public interest is ludicrous, just crazy.’

Lawyers acting for Miss Young, 38, from South Wales, are to launch a request for judicial review of the decision.

Matthew Jury, of law firm McCue and Partners, said: “Week after week, we read of terrorists being granted amnesties, released on bail and being paid compensation by the State.

“Yet, when an innocent victim who, as a small child, witnessed her father’s death at the hands of a terrorist organization asks for help to prosecute his killer, the State turns its back.”

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan has described the decision as a disgrace.

Mr Kinahan said: “On the 20 July 1982 the Hyde Park bombing took the lives of four soldiers in the Household Cavalry, a Regiment of which I was then a member. One of those murdered that day was Lieutenant Anthony Daly who was married just four weeks previously. I remember that because I was his best man, and shortly after his murder I commanded his burial party.

“Today I learned that the Legal Aid Agency has refused a request for legal aid by the victims’ families as they seek justice for their loved ones almost 34 years after the atrocity took place.

“I am very angry to learn that the families were told this was not in the public interest and that they should seek financial backing from the Army or military charities.

“One of those who lost his life that day was Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young and it is his daughter Sarah who has applied for legal aid and been refused.

“Just how much more suffering do the families have to endure? They have already waited 34 years for justice and have also had to watch suspects being given letters of comfort.

“This refusal is an incredible decision given the amount of money in legal aid which is regularly handed over. I would have thought it was very much in the public interest to help prosecute people suspected of murdering our fellow citizens and I wish Sarah every success in her appeal.”