THE Ministry of Defence want a ban slapped on the identity of a retired British Army major during the inquest of an IRA man shot by soldiers claiming it would hamper his ability to holiday in Ireland.
The claim was made at a preliminary hearing at Belfast Coroner’s Court in Belfast today ahead of next month’s inquest due to be held at the courthouse in Derry into the shooting dead of IRA man Seamus Bradley by British soldiers in the city in 1972,
The former company commander with the Royal Scots regiment is due to give evidence at the inquest for Mr Bradley, who was killed in disputed circumstances.
During today’s hearing, a lawyer for the Ministry of Defence urged the coroner to grant anonymity to the major and an ex-Army medical officer – citing concerns for their safety in the context of the ongoing threat posed by dissident republicans.
They were the latest in a number of anonymity applications heard by coroner Judge Patrick Kinney.
MoD barrister Mark Robinson said the ex-company commander grew up in Northern Ireland, and during the Troubles his Armagh home was targeted in a fire bomb attack.
He said he had been forced to sell an estate left to him by his parents due to fears for his safety.
“He is concerned as a result of giving evidence that he will be associated with the allegations in this case and can be easily traced,” said Mr Robinson.
The lawyer added: “He holidays in Northern Ireland and the South and the witness is concerned it could curtail his ability to move freely around the island.”
Mr Bradley, 19, was killed by soldiers during Operation Motorman – an Army attempt to gain control of republican areas in Belfast and Derry that had previously been considered no-go zones for the security forces.
The Army claimed the teenager was shot while he was in a tree and suffered additional injuries as he fell.
His family have alleged he was killed later, claiming he was taken away in an Army Saracen vehicle and alleging he sustained fatal injuries while being subjected to interrogation.
Mr Robinson said the inquest was set to examine allegations of “murder, torture and child abuse” and the major was concerned that revealing his identity would pose a “clear risk” to his safety.
A barrister representing the Bradley family argued against the MoD application.
David Heraghty QC said the major was a senior military officer in 1972 and had no direct involvement in the events on the ground in Derry that led to Mr Bradley’s death.
Mr Heraghty said the witness did not have a high profile, so there would be no publicity or prior knowledge around any future trips to the island.
“He could continue to do so in the future without any particular concerns arising,” said the lawyer.
Mr Robinson also pressed the case for the ex-medical officer’s name to be withheld.
“He fears participation in the inquest will bring him to the attention of dissident republicans and someone may wish to cause him or his family harm as a result,” he said.
The barrister said the witness had re-trained as a GP after leaving the services, so could be “very easily traced if his name was released”.
Mr Heraghty questioned the grounds for the witness’s concerns, highlighting that he was not involved in the killing in “any shape or form”, with his role confined to certifying Mr Bradley’s death in the back of the Saracen.
Judge Patrick Kinney said he would consider the anonymity applications and give a decision before the scheduled inquest start date on February 5.Tags: