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Sunday, February 22, 1998 Published at 16:45 GMT


MP backs campaign to free guardsmen
image: [ The shooting scene in North Belfast 1992 ]
The shooting scene in North Belfast 1992

A campaign to free two Scottish guardsmen serving life sentences for murder is being stepped up.

James Fisher and Mark Wright were convicted of murdering 19-year-old Peter McBride on the streets of north Belfast in 1992.

Mr McBride was shot dead after he ran away from the soldiers who had stopped him for routine questioning.

[ image: Jailed: James Fisher]
Jailed: James Fisher
Last year a campaign was launched to free the guardsmen with supporters saying they had not committed a premeditated killing.

And on Sunday - their 2,000th day in prison - the campaign is receiving backing from Labour MP Tam Dalyell.

The member for Linlithgow is meeting the soldiers' mothers to pledge his support.

He said that as someone who had carried out National Service, he had "some inkling" of what it was like to react under stress.

"Unless one has actually known stress situations I do think it is very hard to envisage the kind of split second decision-making that these two young men were faced with."

Murdered man's grandmother outraged

Mary McBride demanded Sunday to know why Tam Dalyell had joined the campaign "to get these murderers off".

"I think it is a disgrace and just can't believe it," she said, asking that her grandson should be left to "lie in peace".

[ image: Jailed: Mark Wright]
Jailed: Mark Wright
Isobel Wright, from Arbroath, and Sheila Fisher, from Ayr, will join with Mr Dalyell to urge Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam to personally review the soldiers' cases.

The families say the guardsmen have not been given the same treatment as in other cases, like that of paratrooper Lee Clegg.

The campaign has already attracted support from former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, now independent MP for Tatton.

Isobel Wright and Sheila Fisher say their sons are being treated unfairly (3'11")
Earlier this month he pressed for the soldier's release in the House of Commons claiming they had served long enough.

But the government rejected his appeal and said the fate of the two men would be decided by judicial review later this year.

And an early release of the guardsmen would anger republicans in Northern Ireland.

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