28 May 1998 Edition

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Scots Guards' legal bid fails

By Sean O'Tuama

The two Scots Guards, James Fisher and Mark Wright, who were convicted in 1992 of the murder of North Belfast teenager Peter McBride, have failed in their attempt to gain an early release in the High Court on Friday 23 May.

They will now have to wait until October and their fourth appeal to the Life Sentence Review Board before their case can be reconsidered.

Peter's family were pleased at the judge's decision to throw out the soldiers' plea for a judicial review but continue to call for them to be dismissed from the British Army.

``Tony Blair said this week that he understands the plight of the victims,'' said Jean McBride, Peter's mother, ``why then are these two convicted murderers allowed to stay in the army? Does our loss and pain count less than the loss and pain of other victims' families?''

The family also appealed for a meeting with Armed Forces Minister, John Reid, who has already met with those trying to get the soldiers released.

``I don't expect them to be the only two left in jail if early releases start,'' said Peter's father, also called Peter, ``but I don't want them to be the first to be let out either.''

In a further development on Sunday 24 May, Iain Duncan-Smith, British Tory shadow social security minister and former Scots Guard himself, called for the two convicted murderers to be released. He claimed that their action in shooting Mr McBride in the back was ``not a crime like any other crime where a man just goes out and deliberately shoots someone.''

It is also believed that Direct Ruler Mowlam is planning to meet George Foulkes, the Guards' MP, to discuss their case. She has already refused to meet the McBride family, alleging that it would be ``totally inappropriate.'' A spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry which is supporting the McBride family said, ``I would like to know how this (meeting with Foulkes) is going to go ahead and how it is appropriate.''

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