One of the families of four soldiers who were killed in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombings has launched a civil claim for damages against a suspect of the attack, John Downey, after being granted legal aid to take the case to the High Court.
Mr Downey was charged four years ago with the murders, but the prosecution against him was dropped when a judge ruled that an official assurance given in error meant he could not face trial.
The Irishman who has always denied responsibility for their deaths, walked free from the Old Bailey in 2014 after it emerged he had received a so-called ‘on the run’ letter dating back to 2007 as part of the Good Friday Agreement peace deal.
The Hyde Park attack on 20 July 1982 killed Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Trooper Simon Tipper and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young as they rode through the park to attend the Changing of the Guard.
L/Cpl Young’s family are now leading a civil claim for compensation against Mr Downey on behalf of all the families, in a case that is expected to take more than a year to complete.
The families involved in this case will hope their legal team will be able to bring as much information as possible about the Hyde Park attack into the public domain.
However, they could face a battle in their pursuit of damages as Mr Downey is refusing to either appear in court in person or to instruct a legal representative to appear on his behalf. He has also indicated he has no intention of recognising the jurisdiction of the court in this matter.
It is also believed that Mr Downey has transferred part of his assets to his wife, including a share in their home in Co. Donegal, Ireland, in an apparent attempt to avoid paying any future damages awarded against him.