Northern Ireland news

Soldier F defence review demanded after minister's sacking

Theresa May sacked Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary, following an investigation into the leak of information from a National Security Council meeting. Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
Seamus McKinney

THE brother of a teenager shot dead on Bloody Sunday has called for a review of all decisions by British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson following his sacking over a leak from a UK national security council meeting.

He was sacked by Theresa May following an investigation into the leaking of discussions over plans to allow Chinese company Huawei help build the UK’s new 5G network.

The move sent shock waves through British politics as Mr Williamson was seen as a rising star within the Conservative Party.

John Kelly, a brother of Bloody Sunday victim Michael Kelly, said in light of the development the decision to finance the defence of former Paratrooper Soldier F, who has been charged with two murders on Bloody Sunday, must be called into question.

In the days before the Public Prosecution Service announcement Mr Williamson also described moves to prosecute former soldiers for Troubles-killings as “spurious prosecutions”.

Mr Kelly said: “Given that the prime minister has no confidence in Williamson, is it not right that his decision to have his department fund the legal defence of a former soldier should be re-visited now.”

The victims' campaigner also said he hoped Mr Williamson’s replacement, Penny Mordaunt, would adopt a different approach to Northern Ireland prosecutions and would respect the need to remain neutral.

The former minister’s sacking has also led to comparisons with the arrest award-winning Northern Ireland journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney.

The two journalists were arrested last year over a leaked Police Ombudsman report alleging RUC collusion with the UVF in the murders of six men in the Loughlinisland massacre in 1994. In their “No Stone Unturned” documentary the journalists examined claims of state collusion.

In a post, on social media last night, deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson made a comparison about how both cases have been handled.


“Two Northern Ireland journalists publish leaked Police Ombudsman report alleging collusion between RUC and UVF killers. Arrested in dawn raids at home under Official Secrets Act. Tory Defence Secretary allegedly leaks state secrets. No criminal inquiry.”

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