`Bloody Sunday' paras to keep anonymity

RELATIVES OF people killed on Bloody Sunday accused Tony Blair of betrayal after the Government pledged its support for moves to protect the anonymity of paratroopers due to appear before a new tribunal of inquiry.

The families said the independence of the inquiry had been compromised by the decision to fund the soldier's legal fight.

"This smacks of interference and control," said Greg McCartney, a solicitor acting for the family of James Wray, one of the 14 civilians shot dead by paratroopers on the streets of Londonderry in 1972.

"Tony Blair promised us this inquiry would be independent but the current campaign can serve only to undermine its credibility. It bears all the hallmarks of a complete betrayal."

Government backing for the soldiers came after George Robertson, Secretary of State for Defence, told the Cabinet he was concerned for the safety of 17 men who fear they could become targets for the IRA if identified at the inquiry, led by Lord Saville of Newdigate.

But relatives of those killed claimed the soldiers were in no real danger and accused them of trying to frustrate the inquiry. "During the recent anonymity hearings it emerged that the security forces have now revised the threat to soldiers as only moderate," said Mr McCartney.

"What's more, the commanders of the paratroopers on Bloody Sunday are well known and they can't produce a shred of evidence that they have ever been threatened or attacked.

"The relatives are now deeply concerned that what they were promised by Tony Blair is not what they are getting. I would go further and say this is a tactic to try and force the families out and force the resignation of the inquiry.

"Clearly the paratroopers, with the support of the British government, are looking to frustrate and ultimately collapse the inquiry."

The Government's intervention came amid a political and media campaign to overturn the ruling not to allow blanket anonymity for security force members giving evidence to the inquiry, due to open on 27 September.

Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Wilford, who commanded the Paras on Bloody Sunday, said he would go to jail if his men were named. He threatened to refuse to attend the hearing in protest, which could lead to him being charged with contempt of court. Following his comments, government sources confirmed that Mr Robertson was "sympathetic" to the concerns of the former soldiers.

Andrew Mackay, the Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman, said: "This climbdown ... has only happened because of our campaign and the public outcry."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
health
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
news
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine