Manus Deery Inquest: Day 6

Eamon Sweeney was in Derry Courthouse covering the sixth day of the inquest into the death of Manus Deery who was gunned down by the British Army in 1972. He writes:

Coroner to consider application to lift anonymity order on Soldier B

The Presiding Coroner in the fresh inquest into the British Army killing of a Derry teenager 44 years ago has been asked to consider an application to lift the anonymity order on a soldier involved in the shooting.

The move came on the sixth day of the hearing into the death of Manus Deery at the city's courthouse. 

The name of the soldier who fired the fatal shot on May 19, 1972 was revealed for the first day of the inquest on Monday, October 17. The deceased ex-soldier as named as William Glasgow who was previously only ever referred to as Soldier A.

However, acting on instructions from the family of Manus Deery, senior counsellor Fiona Doherty has now submitted an application to have the name of Soldier B also revealed in open court.

Last week, Soldier B gave evidence to the court screened from the public and the press, but was visible to members of the Deery family, the Coroner Lord Justice Adrian Colton and legal representatives in the case.

Miss Doherty in addressing Lord Justice Colton, said she was asking for the ruling made in relation to Soldier B's anonymity to be revised on the basis that it had originally been granted because an increased risk to his personal security existed whilst he was in Northern Ireland to give evidence. "This period of anonymity was to assist him for a short period of time," she said.

The legal representative for the Deery family also contended that since Soldier B had now left Northern Ireland and he was not going to be required to return to this jurisdiction to give further evidence or for any other reason in the future that an increased risk to his security had now passed.

Making a distinction between a visual identification of Soldier B and naming him, Fiona Doherty said: "As far as the public is concerned, he was screened and will remain screened."

Senior Counsel for the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI at the inquest, Mr Martin Wolfe was asked by Lord Justice Colton if he had sought any instruction from Soldier B in relation for the request to lift the anonymity order on him.

Mr Wolfe said that he had not had the opportunity to do so because of the lateness of the application to remove the anonymity order.

He said:

I think counsel is playing fast and loose with the fairness of these proceedings. Granting anonymity undoubtedly had a calming effect for him (Soldier B) to come to Northern Ireland and give his evidence. To take that from him smacks of a certain unfairness. As we move into this legacy process this will impact on the confidence of soldiers in coming to Northern Ireland.

Mr Wolfe also stated that another objection he had to the anonymity order being rescinded was because of recent inaccurate reporting in the press that attributed Soldier B having ordered Soldier A to fire the fatal single round. 

"Things have therefore changed. He was granted anonymity and screening but things have changed now because of inaccurate reporting. So I would oppose this application," said Mr Wolfe.

Mr Gerry McAlinden, senior counsel for the Coroners Service, also opposed the application to have anonymous status removed from Soldier B.

He said that any decision to revoke anonymity could be made:

on an up to date assessment. Risk assessment was carried out before he (Soldier B) gave evidence and before anyone gave evidence. Mr Wolfe has correctly highlighted the impression given of Soldier B's involvement in recent reporting.

Mr McAlinden also contended that the application to revoke anonymity was therefore inappropriate and "unfortunately made."

Responding to Mr McAlinden's comments, Fiona Doherty said she was "absolutely astonished," and that the application was not inappropriate but in fact "totally appropriate" given that Soldier B was compelled to attend the inquest via being served with a writ ordering him to do so.

On the point that a further risk assessment having to be carried order Miss Doherty told the court that an assessment had been carried out on October 10, just a week before the inquest began.

Mr Justice Colton said that he would consider all the points made on the anonymity application and then give his determination on it.

Evidence hearing in the Manus Deery inquest will conclude tomorrow with the final witness, journalist Kevin Myers due to take the witness stand.

A video clip of Mr Meyer's news report for RTE on May 20, 1972 from the scene where Manus Deery was struck by the round fired by William Glasgow has been repeatedly shown throughout the inquest.

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