Bloody Sunday troops `at risk'

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FORMER BRITISH soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland in 1972 are "top of the league" for terrorist attacks, a High Court judge said yesterday. He added that members of The Parachute Regiment were among the "most attractive targets" for republican revenge attacks.

Lord Justice Roch, presiding over a legal challenge by 17 former soldiers who fear being named in the public inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, said the threat to the men was outlined in a Security Services assessment supplied to the tribunal. Fourteen civilians were killed after troops opened fire during a civil rights protest in Londonderry.

Despite the security assessment, the inquiry team decided last May that all the soldiers should give their full names when called to give evidence in September.

Lord Justice Roch said that when the inquiry came to this decision the perceived threat against the men was said to be "significant", the fourth highest level out of a possible six. "In that category, soldiers firing on Bloody Sunday are top of the league when it comes to attractive targets," he said.

The judge was responding yesterday to evidence from Christopher Clarke QC, who argued that the tribunal had been entitled to decide that the need for "a full and open inquiry" outweighed the risks to the men.

The hearing continues.