Northern Ireland

Bloody Sunday result 'most moving' says top QC

Michael Mansfield
Image caption Leading human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield

Leading human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield has said the most moving day of his 42-year career was on 15 June, when the Bloody Sunday Inquiry was published.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, he said the day of the Saville Inquiry into the deaths of 13 people in Londonderry proved to be the most emotional one of his working life.

The 13 died after British paratroopers opened fire during a civil rights march in Derry on 30 January 1972.

A 14th man died some time later and his family believe the death was related to injuries he sustained on the day.

In June, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised in the House of Commons for Bloody Sunday, calling the shootings "unjustified and unjustifiable".

The Saville Report was heavily critical of the Army and found that soldiers fired the first shot.

Asked if the 12-year inquiry was worth it, Mr Mansfield, who represented some of the families of those killed, said: "If you ask any of the families, they felt, quite rightly, that the truth about what happened in 1972 when people died on the streets of Derry, shot by British military forces, had never been uncovered.

"It took a long time, it certainly did, but it was worth every penny because it wasn't dealing with an isolated incident.

He (Lord Saville) had, in fact, a remit much broader than that, it was part of the peace process at that time looking back at what had happened in the 20 years before that, which had led to this situation where British troops were effectively occupying the streets in this way and led to the shooting.

"Now that's an enormous task, if you were a mother, or a father or a relative and you had had your relatives murdered, you would want that to be recognised."

He added:"This was a moment that they had waited for and there was emotion welling up in all of them and for me probably, it was the most moving day of 42 years."

Image caption The events of Bloody Sunday are remembered in murals in Derry

Mr Mansfield, 69, is one of Britain's leading QCs. He has been involved in several high profile cases including that of the Birmingham Six; the Marchioness disaster; the Stephen Lawrence trial and the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

He describes himself as a "radical lawyer" and told Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young that he had been educated by the cases he had taken on.

He has become increasingly angry and radical over the years, he said.

"I do feel that reputation, standing up for principle, is one of the few ways in which a difference can be made."

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