Category: Archive

RUC failed to investigate killing in ’71, judge rules

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Kathleen Thompson, a mother of six, was shot dead in Derry in the early hours of November 6, 1971.
The Thompson family say that the RUC took the word of the British soldier involved that he had been returning fire.
The police told the family that the investigation file had disappeared, but just hours before a television documentary was screened last year they said it had been found.
The police then promised the file would be disclosed to the family but at a subsequent meeting they refused to do that and the Thompson family walked out in disgust.
As late as February 18 of this year, the British minister with responsibility for victims, Des Browne, claimed in correspondence that a full police investigation had been carried out.
Solicitors acting on behalf of the family lodged a judicial review in the High Court, claiming that the secretary of state was under an obligation to carry out an investigation as required by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The judge’s ruling in their favor is likely to have major implications for many cases where British soldiers and RUC officers were allegedly responsible for murder.
Speaking after the judgment, Minty Thompson, the victim’s daughter, said she “was overjoyed at the ruling,” although it’s expected the secretary of state will appeal the judgment.
The family’s lawyer Peter Madden said the ruling “re-enforces the judgment of the Court of Appeal last month, for the family of Gervaise McKerr, that victims of state violence were denied any effective investigation into their deaths.”
Hugh Orde, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, however, has again spoken out against demands for investigations into past cases like the Thompsons’.
He said his priority had to be protecting the human rights of the living, not the dead, although he understood that the families of many murdered people required a sense of “closure.”

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