PPS statement on the prosecution of Soldier F

22 September 2022

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is to recommence proceedings against one former soldier charged in connection with events on Bloody Sunday.

A fresh review of the case against Soldier F – who is facing two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in Derry on 30th January 1972 – has been carried out as the result of a recent Divisional Court ruling.

After careful consideration of the Court ruling made on the 23rd March 2022, it has been decided to continue with proceedings against Soldier F which were put on hold by the PPS in July 2021.  By that date, the prosecution of Soldier F had reached committal stage at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court and the proceedings were part-heard. The PPS now intends to reactivate the case on its next scheduled court date, after which it is expected that the committal hearing will move towards completion.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Agnew said: “The judgment delivered by the Divisional Court in March 2022 has been carefully examined and a fresh review of this case carried out. It has been concluded that, in order to give effect to the Divisional Court judgment, the original decision to prosecute Soldier F should stand. Therefore, the committal proceedings that were put on hold should now proceed.

“The PPS has written to representatives of the families and victims directly involved in the prosecution of Soldier F to confirm this decision. We have offered to meet with the families to answer any questions they may have and to outline the next steps to be taken to progress the case. Soldier F’s legal representatives have also been informed.

“I am very conscious of the upset caused to the Bloody Sunday families by the PPS decision to withdraw proceedings against Soldier F last year. It is our role to keep under review the evidence presented in every case. This case has presented difficult and complex legal issues for prosecutors, as was acknowledged by the Divisional Court. The PPS is committed to progressing court proceedings against Soldier F without any further delay."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. Soldier F is being prosecuted for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney; and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell and a fifth persons unknown in Derry on 30th January 1972.
  2. The decision taken in July 2021 not to proceed with the Soldier F prosecution was taken after careful consideration of the impact of a court ruling made in May 2021 that evidence relied upon in the prosecution of two former soldiers known as Soldier A and Soldier C was inadmissible because of the circumstances in which it was obtained. The reasoning for this decision can be found here.
  3. The PPS decision to not proceed with the Soldier F prosecution was challenged by way of Judicial Review proceedings which led to the Divisional Court ruling of 23rd March 2022. This ruling can be found here.
  4. The PPS considered this ruling of March 2022 gave rise to points of law of general public importance that would have merited consideration by the Supreme Court. The Divisional Court ruled that this was not the case on 6th September 2022, leading to a fresh review of the decision to prosecute Soldier F.
  5. The Soldier F prosecution is next listed for review at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court on 27th September 2022
  6. As the prosecution will shortly be recommenced, the PPS does not wish to say anything that might prejudice those proceedings and will not be making any further comment on this aspect of the case. The PPS would ask that there is no reporting, commentary or sharing of information on-line from other parties which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.
  7. All decisions by the PPS are taken strictly in accordance with the Test for Prosecution which involves two stages. The Test for Prosecution is met if, in relation to an identifiable suspect, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test).
  8. The Evidential Test must be passed first before the Public Interest Test is considered. Further information can be found in the PPS Code for Prosecutors.
  9. Media queries for the PPS should be referred to the Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk
    inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271 804.