11 July 2002 Edition

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Ludovic Kennedy provokes McBride family

The family of Belfast teenager Peter McBride, who was killed by two British soldiers, are furious at remarks made in an interview with broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy on BBC Breakfast News on Thursday 4 July. During the interview Kennedy, who has campaigned on behalf of the two Scots Guards convicted of the 1992 murder, called for compensation to be paid to the men for the six years they spent in prison.

Peter's mother, Jean McBride, is said to be "incandescent with rage" at the remarks. "Who does this man think he is?" she asked. "Mark Wright and James Fisher stand convicted of Peter's murder. He may not accept that shooting an unarmed 18-year-old boy in the back is murder, the British Army doesn't seem to believe it's murder but the courts certainly did. How dare he demand compensation for these two. If anything, his remarks strengthen my determination to carry on until they are dismissed from the British Army.

"I have believed all along that the decision to retain these men in the British Army encouraged those like Ludovic Kennedy and others who have campaigned on behalf of the Scots Guards. This is only rubbing salt into the wound. Those who allowed them to remain must share responsibility for the kind of inaccurate insulting rubbish that Ludovic Kennedy is coming out with."

Ludovic Kennedy has supported Scots Guards Mark Wright and James Fisher for some years.

On 3 September 1998, Kennedy wrote in the Daily Mail that Peter Mc Bride was believed by 'Intelligence' to be 'an IRA sympathiser'. This was totally untrue. Most importantly, he published Jean McBride's address in the article. This led to a number of threatening letters, including death threats by post further adding to the anguish of the family. Mrs McBride fitted secure locks as a result and eventually moved house.

In the same article, Kennedy went on to claim that civilian witnesses at the trial were liars and suggested that Peter McBride may have been preparing to attack the patrol with a coffee jar bomb as he fled. Kennedy commented on the fact that Peter, seriously injured, entered a house with the claim that "residents often kept their doors open as escape routes for the IRA". In the article he argued that Peter had not been searched and speculates that the phantom coffee jar bomb may have been "spirited" away.

On 28 October 1998, Kennedy authored another opinion piece in the Daily Mail in which he argued that Wright and Fisher should be allowed to remain soldiers because 1) Lee Clegg had been allowed to rejoin his regiment, 2) it would otherwise send out the wrong message to potential recruits, 3) they were punished for doing their duty.

Following the release of the Guardsmen, Kennedy said that he looked forward to "shaking the hands of the two men".

Solicitors acting on behalf of the family have asked the BBC for a record of last Thursday's interview.


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