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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Reid sympathy over murdered teenager
Mark Wright (left) and James Fisher each served six years
Mark Wright (left) and James Fisher served six years
The secretary of state has expressed sympathy for the family of murdered Belfast teenager Peter McBride.

Following a meeting with Mr McBride's mother Jean on Tuesday, John Reid said he was also expressing the sympathy of the British Government.

Mrs McBride asked the Northern Ireland secretary to intervene in the campaign to have two Scots Guards soldiers convicted of his murder dismissed from the Army.


I reiterate my commitment that the two soldiers involved will never serve in Northern Ireland

John Reid
Secretary of state

Mark Wright and James Fisher were jailed for life for the murder of Mr McBride in the New Lodge area of north Belfast in 1992.

After serving three years, the soldiers were released and reinstated in the Scots Guards.

Prime minister

Dr Reid said: "I readily acknowledged that the McBride family feel that they have not received justice.

"Although I was constrained by current judicial proceedings in what I could say, I promised Mrs McBride and her daughter that I would convey her feelings to the Ministry of Defence and forward her request for meetings with the minister of the armed forces and the prime minister.

"I reiterate my commitment that the two soldiers involved will never serve in Northern Ireland."

Peter McBride was shot in the back
Peter McBride was shot in the back
Meanwhile, solicitors acting on behalf of Mrs McBride have launched an appeal against the recent High Court ruling which held that the decision to retain the two in the Army was not illegal.

Earlier this month, SDLP leader Mark Durkan wrote to the prime minister over the case of the two soldiers.

Mr Durkan said Peter McBride "was an innocent father of two".

"He was shot in the back by soldiers as he ran away from a checkpoint," said Mr Durkan.

"They lied on oath in court claiming that he was carrying a coffee jar bomb. The judge found that this was completely untrue and convicted them of murder."

'Dishonourable discharge'

Mark Durkan, who is Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, described the Army's decision to keep the pair in its ranks as "outrageous".

At the same time, Mrs McBride asked the Queen why the soldiers have been allowed to stay in the Army.

In an open letter published in the Irish News newspaper, Mrs McBride asked the Queen, as the colonel-in-chief of the soldiers' regiment, why Mark Wright and James Fisher were still in the Army, despite murdering her son.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan wants answers over guards' case
The original Army inquiry ruled that the men had made an "error of judgement", and that they should therefore escape dishonourable discharge on the grounds of "exceptional circumstances".

Mrs McBride won a High Court case in September 1999, overturning the decision to reinstate the two guardsmen in their regiment.

In May 2000, the Ministry of Defence said that senior army officers had begun looking into their original decision.

The MoD said the investigation "could take several weeks".

Then in November 2000, the Ministry of Defence confirmed the decision to allow the soldiers to stay in the Army.

See also:

13 May 02 | N Ireland
10 Apr 00 | N Ireland
03 Sep 99 | N Ireland
15 Nov 99 | Scotland
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