Three party leaders have joined with an MP and an MLA to write to the Prime Minister asking him to delay the legacy Bill to allow an Inquest to be help into the murder of a UDR Corporal.
Unionist leaders, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Doug Beattie MLA and Jim Allister MLA along with Ian Paisley MP and Tom Elliott MLA have appealed to Rishi Sunak and his Ministers to ensure the Inquest takes place.
Corporal James Elliott, a father of three, was abducted, brutally interrogated and murdered by the PIRA in the Republic of Ireland. His body was then transported back across the border in April 1972.
The letter, which was suggested by Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW), states: “We are heartened that the Attorney General for Northern Ireland has recently directed that an inquest be held into the Corporal’s brutal death. This will provide the Elliott family with some closure and an acknowledgement of his dedicated service whilst in uniform, but more importantly the truth about the circumstances of his death.
“No one has ever been convicted of his murder.
“However, there is a looming problem that could derail this long-awaited Inquest. The Government’s Legacy Bill that is currently going through Parliament could conceivably result in this process grinding to a halt.
“If this were to happen, it would be a shocking and deeply disappointing development. It would be an intolerable denial of justice and a grave insult to the memory of a brave soldier and his loved ones.
“We would appeal to you personally, Prime Minister, and your Government, to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this inquest takes place, and that justice prevails – even in Northern Ireland.
“You will be aware that we oppose the Legacy Bill because it will be a legislative barrier to any future terrorist-related cases from taking place. Many innocent victims of terrorism and veterans who worked to prevent anarchy in Northern Ireland view this Bill as a gross betrayal. We would point out that while your government has notionally brought the Legacy Bill forward to protect soldiers from inquests, this is an example of where the Bill will deny the family of a murdered soldier, who died in the service of this country, their right to an inquest.
“In the case of Corporal Elliott, you have the opportunity to show some compassion and understanding. We earnestly hope you avail of this opportunity.”
UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “We are grateful to political leaders and their colleagues for agreeing to take this case to the Prime Minister.
“Corporal Elliott was brutally murdered by PIRA and there was a shocking lack of any investigation by police on both sides of the border. The recent direction for a new inquest is effectively an admission that authorities cannot even be sure which jurisdiction the murder took place in.
“We have campaigned for this inquest for a number of years and believe it is only right that the family has access to this important legal process. It would be heartless and monstrously disrespectful if the Legacy Bill blocked it from taking place.”
“The Elliott family firmly supports this initiative and we hope the Government listens and acts.”
Click here to see the joint letter