Clegg could be released `within weeks'

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The Independent Online
Private Lee Clegg could be released "within weeks", his Labour MP said last night after meeting Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, about freeing the paratrooper jailed for life for murder after shooting dead a joyride r while on duty in Ulster.

Private Clegg's mother delivered a petition seeking his release to Number 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister has already made it clear in the Commons he is sympathetic to the powerful campaign spearheaded by Tory MPs to release Private Clegg under licence by the Secretary of State. The Cabinet is expected to discuss the case today.

Gerry Sutcliffe, MP for Bradford South, said Sir Patrick had given a promise that "no bureaucratic obstacles'' would be allowed to stand in the way of the release under licence, if that was agreed after Sir Patrick had consulted the trial judge, Sir Brian Hutton, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. "I took that to mean he could be released within weeks,'' Mr Sutcliffe said. Mr Mayhew also said the campaign to clear Private Clegg's name by the submission of fresh evidence to the Northern IrelandCourt of Appeal could take place in the next 12 weeks. Sir Patrick said the prospect of release on licence would not stop an attempt to quash the sentence for murder.