BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Monday, 7 June, 2004, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Bloody Sunday dead 'innocent'
Soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday
Soldiers shot 13 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

A six-year inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry has finally proved none of those killed was armed, a barrister has said.

Arthur Harvey QC, who is representing relatives of the dead, also attacked the reliability of evidence given to Lord Saville's tribunal by soldiers who opened fire on Bloody Sunday.

The tribunal resumed on Monday and is sitting for a short time to allow legal teams to clarify matters in closing submissions.

It is examining the events of 30 January 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by British army soldiers during a civil rights march in Derry. A 14th person died later.

Mr Harvey insisted the families had been certain for 30 years that their loved ones were targeted deliberately.

It lifts the shadow for those families of accusations that still exists in certain sections of this community that these innocent victims brought about their own deaths
Arthur Harvey QC

He said: "Those questions can only be answered by those who shot them, by those who were responsible for commanding those that shot them, and those who were responsible for designing the plan and implementing it during the course in which they were shot.

"Having posed questions, and those questions to paraphrase General Jackson, required individual soldiers and officers to look inside themselves for the courage to tell the truth.

"Regrettably that has not occurred."

But Mr Harvey argued the alleged resistance from Paratroops who opened fire on civil rights marchers on Bloody Sunday would stop the real facts from emerging.

He claimed the original, controversial Widgery inquiry into the killings had now been overturned.

"The truth has come out to a substantial degree," the lawyer said.
Lord Saville
Lord Saville's report is not expected until 2005

"Not with a degree of certainty that many of the families would have wished. But one certainty has been established.

"Lord Widgery held that there was strong suspicion that a number of persons at the barricade were either armed or close to armed people.

"That evidence is now based on discredited forensic information.

"That alone makes this inquiry worthwhile, because it lifts the shadow for those families of accusations that still exists in certain sections of this community that these innocent victims brought about their own deaths."

Over the next fortnight, legal teams for both the families and the Army will be questioned on written submissions given to the inquiry as it reaches its conclusion.

Witness evidence

Lord Saville and his colleagues will seek more detail on opposing arguments that the victims were murdered and that troops used reasonable force.

Counsel to the inquiry, Christopher Clarke QC, said the hearing did not have the powers of a criminal court.

He said: "The submissions appear to suggest that it would not be open to the tribunal to report to the secretary of state, that although it could not be sure what had happened in respect of any of the victims of Bloody Sunday, it thought the probabilities were that one or more victims were unlawfully killed by one or more specified soldiers.

"That cannot, I venture to suggest, be right.

"The tribunal may think that Parliament, the secretary of state and the families, not to mention the taxpayer, would justifiably gasp if the tribunal might be compelled to say in the case of any victim: 'We cannot be sure who murdered him.

"'We think it highly probable that it was someone whom we can identify, but by law or by our own self-denying ordinance we cannot tell you who that is.'"

Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges accompanying him on the inquiry began their work in March 2000, and since then, more than 900 witnesses have given evidence to the tribunal.

Inquiry cost

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians, including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath, civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

In October, Counsel to the Inquiry, Christopher Clarke, QC, will deliver his closing statement which is expected to last about two weeks.

Only when Mr Clarke has finished that stage of the tribunal will the three judges sit down to write their report. They are expected to publish their findings in the Spring of next year.

The inquiry has so far cost 130m. The final cost will be in the region of 150m.

It was established in 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair after a campaign by families of those killed and injured.

They felt that the Widgery Inquiry, held shortly after the shootings, did not find out the truth about what happened on Bloody Sunday.

BBC NI's Paul McCauley reports
"In the next few weeks, we may get an idea as to what way this tribunal is going"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific