Devastating critique of the Ministry of Defence at today’s inquest verdict into the death of Stephen Geddis, aged 10. Scientists warned MoD plastic bullets must be aimed at lower limbs but military rules still advised soldiers to “bounce” them, recklessly risking young lives.

Bloody Sunday: Court rejects MoD’s appeal against compensation

The Bloody Sunday murders happened during a civil rights marches on the streets of Co Derry Image copyrightPA MEDIA


A Ministry of Defence (MoD) appeal against a decision to award the family of a man killed on Bloody Sunday an extra payment of £15,000 has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Senior judges rejected claims that Bernard McGuigan’s relatives were not entitled to the aggravated damages for injury to his feelings.

The MoD argued against the payment because he died instantly.

Mr McGuigan was shot as he went to the aid of another man.

Thirteen people were killed and 15 wounded when members of the Army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Derry on Sunday 30 January 1972.

On Thursday, judges backed a finding that Mr McGuigan, a father-of-six, would have experienced fear and dread when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire.

Bloody Sunday victims, top row (left to right): Patrick Doherty, Gerald Donaghey, John Duddy, Hugh Gilmour, Michael Kelly, Michael McDaid and Kevin McElhinney. Bottom row: Bernard McGuigan, Gérard McKinney, William McKinney, William Nash, James Wray and John Young

Lord Justice McCloskey said: “All of this conduct… was capable of generating in every person of normal mental fortitude in the area a reasonable apprehension of being shot or wounded.”

In 2010 the Saville Inquiry into the shootings established the innocence of all of the victims.

Those findings led to the then Prime Minister David Cameron issuing a public apology for the soldiers’ actions.

He described the killings as “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

Liability has been accepted by the MoD in legal actions taken against it by those bereaved or injured.

Court proceedings have centred on the level of damages in each case, with more than £3m in total paid out to date.

Thirteen people were murdered and 15 were wounded on Bloody Sunday

Mr McGuigan, known as Barney, was a painter and decorator.

He was shot at the Rossville Flats area as he went to the aid of 31-year-old Patrick Doherty, who was also shot dead on the day.

The 41-year-old had been waving a handkerchief or towel when he was hit by a bullet to the head, killing him instantly.

A claim by his estate was settled for £258,000.

A High Court judge then awarded a further £15,000 in aggravated damages.

He found that the soldier’s actions would have “filled the deceased with fear and dread, coupled with a strong sense of indignation and hurt at being the innocent victim of a blatant, unprovoked and unjust attack by members of the Army.”

Guildhall Square in Co Derry was packed for David Cameron’s apology on behalf of the British State in 2010 Image copyrightPACEMAKER

The MoD went to the Court of Appeal to challenge the additional award, claiming it was wrong in law because Mr McGuigan’s death was instantaneous.

But counsel for his family insisted the payout was justified by the terror he experienced during the shootings.

Mr McGuigan had been sheltering behind a wall when he went out to try to offer help, clearly aware he was put himself in danger, the court heard.

“That’s why he was waving the piece of towel as he went out,” the family’s barrister submitted.

Ruling on the appeal, Lord Justice McCloskey described the MoD’s case as unsustainable and affirmed the £15,000 compensation for aggravated damages.

He also made an award of costs of the hearing against the MoD.

With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI for the original story 

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UK would be ‘outgunned’ in Russian conflict – think-tank

British ground forces would be “comprehensively outgunned” in a conflict with Russia in Eastern Europe, according to a defence think-tank.

Research by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) found that the Army, as well as NATO allies, has a “critical shortage” of artillery and ammunition

It concluded that it could not maintain a credible defence position.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the UK works closely with Nato and is “well equipped to take on a leading role”.

The research comes ahead of a meeting of Nato leaders in London next week to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance.

The UK, along with other Nato members, has positioned military forces in Eastern Europe to deter any potential Russian aggression in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Around 800 British troops are currently stationed in Estonia. The first were sent in 2017.

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But the study by Rusi found that the UK armed forces lack critical firepower compared to Russia’s military.

It analysed military capabilities in the “unlikely” context of “a high-intensity conflict between Nato and Russia, in which the UK has promised to deliver a warfighting division”.

“At present, there is a risk that the UK – unable to credibly fight – can be dominated lower down the escalation ladder by powers threatening escalation,” the report said.

It said Britain is “comprehensively outgunned and outranged”, leaving enemy artillery free to defeat UK units.

Russian artillery and rocket batteries have already proved to be potent, destroying two Ukrainian battalions in 2014 within minutes.

UK and other Nato forces not only have a limited number of artillery pieces, but also a shortage of munitions stockpiles and transportation.

The report said the “rejuvenation and modernisation” of Britain’s ground-based artillery is an “urgent and critical priority”.

In response, the MoD said: “The UK does not stand alone but alongside its Nato Allies, who work closely together across air, sea, land, nuclear and cyber to deter threats and respond to crises.”

It added: “As the largest Nato defence spender in Europe, the UK’s armed forces are well equipped to take a leading role in countering threats and ensuring the safety and security of British people at home and abroad.”

The statement comes less than three weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron described Nato as “brain dead” – stressing what he sees as waning commitment to the transatlantic alliance by its main guarantor, the US.

MoD figures released in August found that the size of Britain’s armed forces had fallen for a ninth consecutive year.

The finding came just six months after the Commons spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, claimed the MoD had a funding black hole of at least £7bn in its 10-year plan to equip the UK’s armed forces.

Number of full-time trained personnel
Source: Ministry of Defence
A delegation of Russian military personnel visited Scotland last year to observe one of Europe’s largest Nato exercises.

The visit was in line with the UK’s obligations to the Vienna Document which aims to promote mutual trust and transparency among states signed to it.

It came as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres claimed the Cold War was “back with a vengeance” as he warned abut the dangers of escalating tensions over Syria.

With many thanks to: BBC News England for the original story 


MoD drone crashed into tree near Aberporth, report reveals

WK050 lay wreacked at the bottom of a tree after the crash Image copyright: CROWN


A £6m military drone crashed after it landed beyond its planned touchdown point and hit a tree, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) report has revealed.

The Watchkeeper WK050 came down on 13 June, 2018, less than a mile from Penparc school, Aberporth, where pupils were taking part in a sports day.

Five drones – almost 10% of a 54-strong fleet bought from French firm Thales – have been wrecked in mid Wales crashes.

The MoD said action had been taken to address problems.

Its report, revealed following a Freedom of Information request, said the drone “landed long” of its touchdown point, before veering to the right.

The system computer failed to register it had landed so “auto-aborted as it approached the end of the runway”.

Its engine then powered up and the drone “climbed away”.

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MoD drone crashes in Aberporth field near Penparc school
When it was 40ft (12m) above the ground, the pilot cut the engine.

The report concluded “the pressing of the engine cut was the cause of the accident”.

The Ministry of Defence ordered 54 Watchkeepers in 2005 as part of an £847m deal Image copyright: GETTY IMAGES


After that it “glided over the road and crashed into a tree, approximately 900m beyond” the landing point.

“Had no action been taken by the crew the AV (aerial vehicle) would have completed its automatic go-around, from which it could have been commanded to conduct a further approach,” the report said.

The drone was being tested at West Wales Airport at Aberporth, Ceredigion.

An MoD spokesman said action had been taken to address identified problems and it was “considering all of the recommendations”.

The drone crashed near Aberporth, Ceredigion in June 2018


A Thales spokesman said it had “already addressed the vast majority of the recommendations”.

“Unmanned aircraft systems like Watchkeeper are designed to keep our service people out of hostile environments,” he said.

“Our ability to rigorously test their capabilities and meet the highest standards of testing and certification demanded of the UK’s military aviation authorities means that we are ultimately able to deliver a safe system when deployed in operational situations.”

With many thanks to: BBC News England for the original story 


Military prosecutions: ‘Unfair’ investigations to be barred

British troops and veterans will be given stronger legal protections against prosecution, Defence Secretary Penny Mordant will announce. Image copyright © REUTERS

The new law would protect them from investigation over actions on the battlefield abroad after 10 years, except in “exceptional circumstances”.

Ms Mordaunt said it would prevent “repeated or unfair investigations”.

The protections, which will be put to a public consultation, would not apply to alleged offences in Northern Ireland.

On taking office earlier this month, after the sacking of Gavin Williamson, Ms Mordaunt said preventing members of the armed forces from being “pursued unfairly” over claims of wrongdoing would be her “personal priority”.

The new protections apply to actions carried out in the course of duty more than a decade ago.

In these cases, there would be a statutory presumption against prosecution for current or former armed forces personnel.

But in exceptional circumstances, such as where compelling new evidence had emerged, the protections could be set aside.

In a statement before the announcement, Ms Mordaunt said: “It is high time that we change the system and provide the right legal protections to make sure the decisions our service personnel take in the battlefield will not lead to repeated or unfair investigations down the line.”

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She is also expected to repeat the government’s commitment to take up a right to suspend parts of the European Convention on Human Rights before the UK embarks on military operations.

The Ministry of Defence said the suspension, known as “derogation”, would protect British troops from the kind of “persistent” legal claims that followed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Legal protection for serving and former British soldiers has long been promised, but has proved hard to deliver.

Penny Mordaunt knows that and has made it her priority to do something quickly.

The proposals she is making, though, are limited to allegations of wrongdoing by British troops on the battlefield which happened more than 10 years ago.

That could help protect soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are, however, still dozens of investigations ongoing from both wars, and some will question whether they should be abandoned. And then there is Northern Ireland.

It is the prosecution of veterans who served during the Troubles that has so incensed Tory backbench MPs. And on that issue she has not been able to offer any solution.

An inquiry into allegations against Iraq war veterans was shut down in 2017 after a lawyer representing many of the complainants was found to have acted dishonestly.

The defence secretary is expected to say that lessons from investigating allegations in Iraq and Afghanistan should also be applied to Northern Ireland, although the presumption against prosecution would not apply.

Six former soldiers who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles are currently facing prosecution.

The cases relate to Daniel Hegarty; Bloody Sunday; John Pat Cunningham; Joe McCann (involving two ex-soldiers); and Aidan McAnespie.

Not all the charges are murder.

The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland said that of 26 so-called legacy cases it has taken decisions on since 2011, 13 related to republicans, eight to loyalists, and five are connected to the Army.

The proceedings have been criticised by some Tory MPs, including former Army officer Johnny Mercer, who earlier this month said he would not co-operate with the government until it ended the prosecutions.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Birmingham pub bombings: two Government intelligence folders have gone missing, inquest told

Top level documents from November 1974 have disappeared

Two folders of potentially important evidence relating to the Birmingham pub bombings have gone missing, it has emerged.

The folders, destined for a government intelligence sub committee at the time of the attacks in November 1974 have disappeared, the Coroner who will lead the new inquest has been informed.

A total of 21 people died when two devastating blasts ripped apart the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham city centre at the height of an IRA bombing campaign.

In a series of pre-inquest reviews, the issue of disclosure by the security forces, including West Midlands Police, MI5 and MI6, has been repeatedly raised by the families of those killed, through lawyers.

To date, 2,838 documents have been disclosed to lawyers for the relatives, totalling more than 28,000 pages.

Among these, the families have for the first time been given sight of two investigations into the bombings, Operation Aston and Operation Review.

But barrister Mr Kevin Morgan, who represents ten families, asked for further steps to be taken by the coroner, connected to disclosure.

He said: “We believe there would have been or should have been at the very highest level official documentation as to how to deal with this bombing campaign.

The Mulberry Bush pub after it was wrecked in the Birmingham pub bombings

“It appears, to me, there was a threat of violence to the people of England at the time that had not been seen since World War Two.

“Incendiary and explosive devices were being detonated throughout England. There had been lots of bombs.

“We would have thought the security services, particularly given their responsibilities and duties, would have formulated a plan to deal with that, rather than the alternative.

“If there are policies we need to consider if they were followed, whether they were appropriate, and if they weren’t followed, why they weren’t.”

Battling to win fair funding for the inquests – families of the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings

Fighting for the truth – families of the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings

West Midlands Police, and government agencies, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, MI5, MI6 and the Ministry of Defence, have said they have disclosed all information they have been able to find within their records.

Mr Peter Skelton, counsel to Coroner Sir Peter Thornton said the relevance of “policies and procedures” to the inquest was not in doubt.

He said: “Whether it is possible to discern whether policies existed, and disappeared or ever existed, is quite difficult.”

The coroner has been told there is “no evidence” of involvement in the attacks by a state agent or informant.

The issue of whether there had been anyone with links to the British state within the IRA cell which carried out the attacks had been raised previously by families of the victims.

The Birmingham pub bombing victims

Turning to the evidence of witnesses at the forthcoming hearing, Mr Skelton said much of it would have to be read.

He said: “Forty-four years have passed, memories have faded and people have died. Many witnesses, those in the pubs, have physical and mental injuries that last, to this day.”

Sir Peter replied: “Some of them are really quite shocking

Mr Skelton added: “They remain extremely damaged. It follows much of the evidence will have to be read.”

The attack was the worst on the UK mainland since the Second World War, until the July 7/7 bombings.

A botched investigation by West Midlands Police led to the convictions of the Birmingham Six, who were found guilty of the murders a year later. But their convictions were overturned.

The coroner will rule on the disclosure application in due course, and the hearing was adjourned for a final pre-inquest hearing, on February 11.

The full inquest is set to begin on February 25.

With many thanks to the: Birmingham Mail for the original story.



A BANNER erectied by the SAS in Layneham which was later posted on social media was removed by the MOD (Ministry of Defence).

The GLOATING poster described as “inappropriate” last night by a Ministry of Defence spokesperson who also claimed no-one had reported having seen it. A picture of the poster which reads “SAS _8, IRA – 0’accopanied by the famous ‘Who Dares Wins’ logo of the SAS and an image of modern-day British soldiers in a warzone – with one appearing to jump for joy – appeared on social media.


The image’s appearance coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the Loughgall Martyrs ambush in which eight IRA men and an innocent civilian were murdered by the SAS. Even though the current terror threat in Britain remains at ‘severe’ meaning an attack is highly likely, 

And despite high security around MoD premises, the sign went unnoticed as it was placed and removed right under the noses of security at the base. On Saturday night, however, the MoD  (Ministry of Defence) said it wanted nothing to do with the glorifying of the ambush, labelling the poster “inappropriate”.

MoD Lyneham, formerly an RAF base, now serves as a Defence Technical base. Earlier this month an SAS flag appeared in Loughgall village, 

Where the mass murder occurred (ambush took place), attracting much criticism. The Sunday World also obtained another photo which appears to show an SAS flag and a similar ‘scoreboard’ poster erected in the Co. Tyrone village of Moygashel. 

The Loughgall Ambush was the IRA’s biggest single loss of life in one incident and it dealt a hammer-blow to the group’s highly active East Tyrone Brigade. On May 8th,1987, the SAS opened fire on the IRA active service unit as they made their getaway after driving a digger with a bomb in the bucket through the fence of Loughgall RUC station. The bomb exploded, with the station sustaining major damage.


However, as the RUC were tipped off (had received strong information) prior to the attack and shared it with the SAD, the station had already been evacuated. Apart from one RUC officer and the SAS laying in wait for the victims. A number of whom were badly injured at the time. As the IRA unit made their escape, 36 SAS operatives open fire murdering the IRA unit from concealed positions, killing all eight of the IRA unit and an innocent civilian in cold blood the civilian who had inadvertently driven into the ‘Kill Zone’. 

The eight IRA men murdered were Jim Lynch, Gerard O’Callaghan, Eugene Kelly, Padraig McKearney, Seamus Donnelly, Declan Arthurs, Patrick Kelly and Tony Gormley. Civilian Anthony Hughes was murdered when he was caught in the cross fire. He was in a car with his brother, Oliver, who was baby wounded, as they made there way to work. Both men were wearing blue overalls similar to the ones the men in the IRA unit were wearing.

The 30th Anniversary of the Loughgall Martyrs was remembered earlier this month at a commemoration event in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, which was addressed by Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill. Last week Sinn Féin condemned the flying of the SAS flag in Loughgall, branding it an act of “glorification”.

Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady said: “This shameful act of glorification will only serve to add further distress to the families of the nine men as we approach the 30th Anniversary.” In a statement, an MOD spokesperson said: “We are aware of an image that shows an inappropriate poster outside MoD Lyneham and condemn its content. The poster was found, and no personnel reported seeing it.”

With many thanks to: Jamie McDowell, The Sunday World for the original story.

Daughter of woman murdered (Cumann na mBan) the female wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead with her sister to sue Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Maura Meehan (31) and her sister Dorothy Maguire murdered by the British Army in 1971 to sue MoD.

Daughter of shot IRA woman to sue British Army
Margaret Kennedy (Maura’s daughter) holds photographs of her mother Maura Meehan and aunt Dorothy Maguire who were shot dead at a British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971. Picture by Mal McCann
 THE daughter of an IRA woman killed along with her sister more than 45 years ago by the British Army is set to sue the Ministry of Defence. Mother-of-four Maura Meehan (31) was killed along with her sister Dorothy Maguire when soldiers open fire on a car ( pictured below) in which they were passengers in West Belfast in 1971. Both women were members of Cumann na mBan, the female wing of the IRA.

Picture’s of the car Maura and Dorothy were traveling in showing the extent of damage done in the double murder committed by the British Army.

Original examinations also found that swabs taken from Ms Maguire showed the presence of lead on one hand. However a recent ballistic forensic report commissioned by solicitors acting for the family has cast doubt on the origional findings saying they did not “provide any salient evidence to conclude that Mrs Meehan had fired a gun”.

The review added that the origional report failed to consider other sources of lead “an explanation for the presence of lead on the swabs taken from her hands”. Mr Meehan’s daughter, Margaret Kennedy (pictured above), last night welcomed the new findings.”It’s what we have said all along basically,” she said. Mrs Kennedy, who was aged nine when her mother was mudered by British Army, accused authorities of “stalling” on the case but said they would continue with their campaign until they get answers.

“All we are looking for is the truth to be told,” she said. The Ministy of Defence (MoD) did not respond to requests for a comment.

With many thanks to: The Irish News, Mal McCann (for the picture) and for the origional story.

MoD being sued by family over Copeland shooting

John Copeland died in 1971 after being shot by the British army

THE family of a North Belfast man shot dead by the British army more than 40 years ago is to sue the Ministry of Defence.


Ardoyne man John Copeland was shot as he walked from his mother’s house to his home at Ladbrook Drive on October 28 1971, dying in hospital two days later. He is the father of high-profile republican Eddie Copeland, who himself was shot and wounded by a British soldier in 1993. The family’s solicitor Kevin Winters on Thursday night confirmed that he will also take legal action to ensure British army files connected to the case which are held in England are not destoyed. The records are among a massive haul of Troubles-related documents transferred from the North of Ireland to a warehouse in Swadlicote in Derbyshire several years ago. The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has previously said it was unable to identify two soldiers involved in the shooting and Mr Winters said the family has “serious concerns that the archive material could be destroyed or otherwise subjected to weeding and/or redaction”.


In 2011 it emerged that security force files held at Gough Barracks in Armagh had been destroyed by police, who later claimed they were contaminated by asbestos. During a 1973 inquest into Mr Copeland’s death, three soldiers claimed they opened fire on the father-of-two after he shot at them with a pistol. However, three civilian witnesses later gave evidence that Mr Copeland was not armed. On the same day another Ardoyne man, Michael McLarnon (22), was also killed by the same Green Howard army unit as he stood at the door of his Etna Drive home, while a local woman was also shot and injured. Now Mr Copeland’s widow Isobel is claiming damages from the MoD for the death of her husband, accusing them of a range of failings including negligence. His son Eddie, who was just one when his father was killed, said his death has been “hanging over the family” for four decades. “It’s all about accountability,” he said. “The man who killed my father was eventually promoted and his name has popped up in a few cases. “It’s a case of holding the state to account. I am not worried about an individual person. At the end of the day the state killed him, not an individual.” Mr Copeland was also critical of the Historical Enquires Team investigation.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.

UDA agent ‘mentally unstable’ according to British army files!

‘We will have to study this new information and see what course of action we take as a result – John Finucane.

Newly discovered military documents reveal that British agent Brian Nelson had previously been discharged from the army after suffering serious mental illness.


Records obtained by victims campaigner and researcher Ciaran MacAirt show that when Nelson left the ranks of the Black Watch in February 1970 he had suffered a breakdown. Despite this he was issued with a legally-held firearm and later recruited as a British army agent, going on to be involved in the shipment of arms and multiple murders, including the 1989 shooting of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane. On the orders of his handlers Nelson had infiltrated the UDA gang which shot dead the father-of-three. The murdered man’s son, solicitor John Finucane, said the family would be asking for clarification about the new information. The murder was the subject of a recent British government-ordered review by barrister Sir Desmond de Silva. However, no mention was made of Nelson’s medical condition.”This is certainly disturbing and something that the MoD [Ministry of Defence] would need to explain. It is also now for Desmond de Silva to state whether he was aware of this,” Mr Finucane said. “We will have to study this new information and see what course of action we take as a result.”


The documents show that when Nelson, from the Shankill area of Belfast, was “mentally and emotionally unstable”. Medical assessments carried out in November and December 1969 recommended he not have any overseas combat postings. In the space of a month his condition was found to have deteriorated from ‘very serious’ to the gravest category. The December 1969 examination showed that his mental breakdown was so serious he was recommended for discharge just weeks later. Mr MacAirt said: “Nelson, British army number 24032542, was very far from the model soldier. “His military records display a litany of misdemeanours, including the serious ‘absent without leave’ and criminality. “During his short, four-year military service he had served 128 days in military detention – more than 8 per cent of his total service. “What is most interesting, though, is that we learn of the reason for his final discharge. It was not due to his poor service history or that he went AWOL as has been thought. “The reason for his discharge has serious ramifications for the de Silva report and calpability in litigation that is being brought befor the court against the British State. “Brian Nelson’s military file records that he was discharged from the British army as he was mentally and emotionally unstable.” Despite his mental condition, Nelson was recruited by the British army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) in 1984, but not before he had been involved in serious sectarian attacks including the ‘romper room’ torture of Gerard Higgins, who was registered blind, in a Shankill Road drinking den. Mr Higgins was beaten, burned and electroucuted by Nelson and a gang of loyalists before being taken away in a car. The car, which belonged to the former soldier, was intercepted by a British army unit. Nelson was found to be armed with a legally held weapon. Transcripts of his police interveiws, obtained by Mr MacAirt, reveal that he told the RUC he had been given the weapon for his own protection. Nelson was sentenced to serve seven years for the 1973 attack on Mr Higgins of which he served half. Charges of conspiracy to murder against him were dropped. “How could Nelson have been issued with a gun if, as his military record tells us, he was mentally and emotionally unstable and discharged from the British army because of this?” Mr MacAirt said. “The revelations of Brian Nelson’s mental and emotional instability and the questions raised about his convictions go to the very foundation of the de Silva report and his examination of Nelson as an agent.”

with many thanks to: Allison Morris,The Irish News

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