Ex-Army chief warns Bloody Sunday prosecutions would set dangerous precedent

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PROSECUTING Bloody Sunday soldiers would set a dangerous precedent, a former military chief insisted yesterday.

Lord Ramsbotham said any charges would impact on the Army’s future operations.

Getty – Contributor

An ex-Army chief has warned prosecuting soliders over Bloody Sunday would set a dangerous precedent[/caption]

Times Newspapers Ltd

Lord Ramsbotham said any charges would impact on the Army’s future operations[/caption]

He spoke as Northern Ireland prosecutors consider whether to charge up to 17 former soldiers over the clash, with some facing possible murder raps.

Fourteen people died after British troops opened fire on a civil rights march.

The protesters were campaigning in Londonderry against the mass arrest of IRA suspects.

Lord Ramsbotham, 84, at the time a Lt Colonel who was military assistant to the Chief of the General Staff, said the ageing former members of 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, should not face court.

He said there was “profound” concern within the Army about the effect such prosecutions could have on a soldier who, he said, “only obeys an order”.

‘SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS’

He added: “The position of a commander giving an order to somebody to open fire — if it’s likely to end up in court, the soldier receiving the order and the person giving the order will think twice about it in the future.

“And that could have very serious implications if we’re defending this country.

“I am thinking in terms of the command and control of the Army as a whole. It sets a very dangerous precedent.”

The peer was in London when he took a phone call on Sunday January 30, 1972, telling him people had been killed.


He said: “I was obviously very sorry lives had been lost.”

He recalled that Gen Sir Michael Carver, then head of the Army, had been “appalled”.

Both men visited the regiment a week later and “got the impression they were full of remorse”.

PA:Press Association

Lord Ramsbotham during his Army days[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Lord Ramsbotham spoke as Northern Ireland prosecutors consider whether to charge up to 17 former soldiers over the clash[/caption]

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