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Challenge to Soldier F's anonymity on eve of next court mention

Lawyers for Bloody Sunday victims write to PPS asking why anonymity is still in place

Challenge to Soldier F's anonymity on eve of next court mention

Soldier F is accused of the murder of Jim Wray and Willie McKinney on Bloody Sunday. He is also facing four counts of attempted murder.

EXCLUSIVE

The legal team for the families of a Bloody Sunday victim has challenged the continuing anonymity of the former soldier accused of his murder. 


The case of Soldier F, who is also accused of four counts of attempted murder in relation to the events of January 30, 1972 is due to be mentioned again at Derry courthouse tomorrow morning (December 4, 2019). The case was adjourned in September to allow evidence against the accused to be considered. 


But in a dramatic twist to the case, it has emerged that a Derry based lawyer has lodged a bid with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to have the anonymity of Soldier F removed. 


Ciaran Shiels, a lawyer with Madden & Finucane who act for the family of William McKinney, wrote to the PPS on Monday (December 2) asking that Soldier F's identity no longer be obscured from the public domain.

The law firm also acts for the four men that Soldier F stands accused of attempting to murder - Patrick O'Donnell, Joe Mahon, Joe Friel and Michael Quinn. 


The letter seen by the Derry News states: "The next of kin are unsurprisingly concerned about the imposition of the anonymity order which is viewed as a clear interference with and departure from the principles of open justice. With the exception of the prosecutions concerning the murders of Joe McCann and Daniel Hegarty, we are unaware of any other cases in which former serving members of the British Army were prosecuted with the benefit of anonymity orders, in either interim or final form.


"The Public Prosecution Service is no doubt aware that Soldier F's true identity has been firmly in the public domain in Derry and beyond for a period in excess of 20 years. Furthermore, despite blanket anonymity having been granted by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry following a decision of the Court of Appeal in England to grant anonymity to the shooters at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, this extended only to Soldier F's surname."


The letter to the PPS from Madden & Finucane goes on to cite the page of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry report in which this information is contained and continues: "No harm has befell Soldier F in the intervening period since he gave evidence at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in public, unscreened, on 1 and 2 October 2003 and in circumstances where those proceedings were broadcast publicly in Derry at the Guildhall by means of live link, and also simultaneously in private in a room set aside for the Bloody Sunday relatives and wounded, also at the Guildhall in Derry."


The letter to the PPS also asks for information to be provided on how Soldier F obtained the anonymity order and if the security services have provided any type of risk assessment to advise if the risk to the accused man's life would be increased if he was prosecuted without anonymity.


"We should also be grateful if you would advise if the security services have taken into account all of the above material factors, which should have significantly informed the assessments that were presumably conducted by the security services. In addition, please provide detailed reasons for granting an interim anonymity order in this matter," the letter continues.


Finally, the letter confirms that the correspondence from Madden & Finucane has already been forwarded to District Judge Barney McElholm and that the legal firm has no difficulty with Soldier F's legal representatives seeing the letter.

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