SDLP leader Colum Eastwood uses parliamentary privilege to name Bloody Sunday soldier

An MP has used parliamentary privilege to name a soldier accused of murdering two men during Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 8:53 pm
SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood intervened on shadow defence minister Stephanie Peacock as the House of Commons considered amendments to the Armed Forces Bill.

Mr Eastwood, the MP for Foyle, said: “I very much welcome her commitment to the rule of law in amendment one.

“Almost 50 years ago, 14 unarmed civil rights marchers were murdered on the streets of Derry by the Parachute Regiment.”

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Mr Eastwood went on to make allegations against Soldier F, including stating a name.

The MP added: “For 50 years he’s been granted anonymity.

“Now the Government wants to give him an amnesty.

“Does the shadow minister agree with me that nobody, none of the perpetrators involved in murder during our Troubles should be granted an amnesty?”

The soldier cannot be named for legal reasons.

Parliamentary privilege enables MPs to say whatever they wish in the House of Commons without fear of being sued for defamation.

Soldier F has been facing charges of murdering James Wray and William McKinney on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in January 30 1972, when troops opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the city’s Bogside, killing 13 people.

Last week, it was reported a formal move to halt the prosecution of the veteran was set to be delayed to facilitate a legal challenge against the decision.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service had been due to withdraw proceedings against Soldier F at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court last Friday.

But the PPS said it would ask for that hearing to be adjourned after a brother of one of the victims secured judicial permission to challenge the prosecutors’ decision at a High Court hearing in the autumn.

A barrister representing Soldier F told the High Court in Belfast on Thursday that he would not oppose Friday’s adjournment application in Londonderry, given the court assurances that September’s legal challenge is to expedited.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) said in a statement outside the chamber: “Colum Eastwood’s actions are reckless and downright dangerous.

“I will be writing to the Speaker and the Commissioner for Standards. The Foyle MP’s behaviour falls well below that expected of someone in his position especially when the courts have made clear that to name this person could jeopardise life.

“The DUP does not believe in an amnesty for anyone who perpetrated wrongful actions.”