22 May 2006

Settlement in Bloody Sunday libel


Soldiers shot 13 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

Members of the Bloody Sunday campaign have settled out of court a number of libel claims against a newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph had printed articles in 1999 which the families said were widely perceived to be "grave slurs" on their reputations.

Relatives' spokesman Michael McKinney said they would be paid "substantial damages and costs".

The Daily Telegraph confirmed four claims were settled but without any admission of liability by the paper.

Libel action was taken by the families and their solicitors and the High Court in Belfast was told the case has been settled.

The legal representative for the families and solicitors told Mr Justice Higgins: "These actions have been stayed on terms which have been agreed."

Following the brief court hearing, Mr McKinney, the spokesman for the Bloody Sunday Campaign, said the Daily Telegraph articles "whatever their intentions, were widely perceived to be a grave slur on our reputations.

"However, by bringing these actions to a successful conclusion - with substantial damages and costs being paid by the Daily Telegraph - the families have been vindicated."

Fourteen civilians were shot by soldiers during a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972.

Final report

An inquiry is under way into the circumstances of the deaths.

Lord Saville and his two colleagues, who opened the inquiry in April 1998, have been trawling through evidence heard from more than 900 witnesses.

The first public hearing was held in March 2000 and closed in November 2004.

Victims' families have said they had been told by the Irish government the final report would not be released until next year.

The Bloody Sunday inquiry was established in 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair after a campaign by families of those killed and injured.

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians, including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath, civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

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