23 May 2006

Paper’s payout goes to Bloody Sunday families

Daily Ireland

By Eamonn Houston

Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper has agreed to pay substantial damages and costs to some families of those killed on Bloody Sunday in an out-of-court settlement.
The Bloody Sunday Campaign launched a seven-year legal battle after the newspaper printed certain articles in June 1999.
The families of the dead said the articles amounted to “grave slurs” on their character.
The Daily Telegraph said in a statement yesterday that it had settled four claims out of court but without making any admission of liability.
Michael McKinney, whose 26-year-old brother William was one of those killed, said it was a matter of regret that the newspaper had not apologised to the families at the time and had chosen to defend the publication of the articles.
Mr McKinney said the families had been vindicated by the paper’s climb-down.
“The Daily Telegraph articles, whatever their intentions, were widely perceived to be a grave slur on our reputations,” said Mr McKinney.
“They provided ammunition to persons who have sought to stigmatise our families since 1972.
“It is a matter of great regret that The Daily Telegraph did not take up the early opportunity to make an immediate apology and instead attempted to defend the action.”
Mr McKinney said the families had tirelessly campaigned for justice over the Bloody Sunday killings, in which 14 unarmed civilians died as a result of British paratroop gunfire in the Bogside area of Derry on January 30, 1972.
“We took the campaign for a proper public inquiry, backed by overwhelming community support, to political leaders and governments in Dublin, London, Europe and the US.
“We actively lobbied with all we met in an open and honest fashion.
“Both publicly and privately, we have stated that we have no desire for revenge or to see any family suffer as our families have,” Mr McKinney said.
“It is a matter of public record that The Daily Telegraph implacably opposed the Bloody Sunday inquiry and sought every opportunity to criticise it,” he said.
The Bloody Sunday relatives are awaiting an indication of when the long-awaited report of the Saville inquiry will be published.
The families have called for the inquiry to make clear a timetable for the publication of Lord Saville of Newdigate’s findings.

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