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11 June 1998 Edition

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Tory leader backs murderers

By Mick Naughton.

``We know they are going to get out, but what really grates is the fact that they are still serving members of the British army. They'll have maybe £60,000 in back money waiting for them when they get out, and we know that their families have been assured that they won't have to go back to Belfast, but that they'll probably be posted to Germany.''

That's how human rights activist Paul O'Connor described the latest moves on the part of the British establishment to secure the early release of the two Scots Guards James Fisher and Mark Wright convicted of shooting North Belfast Catholic teenager Peter McBride in September 1992.

Now British Conservative leader William Hague has lent his support for the soldiers' early release. Hague joins other prominent British MPs to support Wright and Fisher, including shadow social security minister Iain Duncan-Smith, himself a former captain in the same regiment and former BBC journalist Martin Bell MP. Speaking last weekend before the start of the Scottish Conservative Party's annual conference in Glasgow, Tory shadow spokesperson Duncan-Smith rejected the view of commentators in Scotland who linked the killers with the peace process.

Duncan-Smith warned at a press conference against the pair being treated as ``political pawns'' stating, ``they are not political prisoners and should not be treated as political prisoners,'' a call backed by Phil Gallie, former Tory MP for Ayr and Ben Wallace, candidate for West Aberdeenshire also a former captain in the Scots Guards who served in the Six Counties at the same time as Fisher and Wright.
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