Page last updated at 21:41 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Year's delay for Saville report

Soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday
Soldiers shot 14 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

The Saville Inquiry's report into the events of Bloody Sunday will not be completed until autumn 2009, the chairman of the inquiry has revealed.

The Inquiry had been due to deliver its completed report this autumn.

Lord Saville said the previous indication of the timescale necessary to complete the report "was a substantial underestimate".

Thirteen people died after paratroopers opened fire during a civil rights march in Derry in January 1972.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said he was "astounded" by the news.

We have always found it difficult, given the scale and complexity of the material with which we are dealing, to predict accurately how long it will take us to complete our task
Lord Saville
He said he had expected the report to be finished by the end of the year and published in early 2009, adding the families had "no option" but to wait.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward said he was "surprised and disappointed".

He said he shared the "understandable concerns" of families and others about the cost of further delay, adding that the Northern Ireland Office would be meeting Lord Saville's team "as a matter of urgency".

SDLP leader and Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: "Obviously Lord Saville has to give the weight and scale of the evidence involved diligent consideration, and the families and others who participated in the inquiry have confidence in him in that regard.

"However, the report taking so long and the fears that it may be delayed further is a source of some anxiety and apprehension."

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

Apology

Lord Saville apologised for the delay, and said he and his colleagues were "determined to deal fairly, accurately and thoroughly with the issues before us".

"We have always found it difficult, given the scale and complexity of the material with which we are dealing, to predict accurately how long it will take us to complete our task," he said.

The Bloody Sunday inquiry has so far cost more than 181m, the longest and most expensive inquiry in British legal history.

About half of this cost was for legal services, the Northern Ireland secretary told the Commons in February.

The first witness was heard in November 2000 and the last in January 2005.

The tribunal received 2,500 witness statements, with 922 of these called to give direct evidence.

There were also 160 volumes of evidence, containing an estimated 20-30 million words, plus 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes.

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