THE Ministry of Defence will support a British soldier who is accused of murder over the Bloody Sunday shootings.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that the MoD would pay the former soldier's legal costs following the news he would be prosecuted over the incident in Londonderry in 1972.
Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced today that man – known as Soldier F – would be charged with two counts of murder and four for attempted murder.
The former British soldier will be prosecuted over the deaths of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell.
However the soldier would have the support of the MoD Mr Williamson announced this morning.
He said: ‘We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
‘The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support.
‘The Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated.
‘And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.’
Sixteen other veterans and two ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were investigated, will not face prosecution over the Bloody Sunday shooting.
Twenty-eight unarmed civilian protesters were shot by British soldiers during the incident in the Bogside area of Londonderry in 1972 during the height of the Northern Ireland troubles.
Thirteen died on the day while another one died four and a half months later.
The soldiers involved were members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, also known as ‘1 Para’.
Police also investigated whether any suspects perjured themselves while giving evidence to the long-running Bloody Sunday inquiry.
But the PPS decisions in respect of potential perjury charges will be announced at a later date.