Northern Ireland

Ex-army chief General Sir Frank Kitson sued over 1973 killing in Belfast

Proceedings have been issued against the Ministry of Defence and General Sir Frank Kitson Image copyright PA
Image caption Proceedings have been issued against the Ministry of Defence and General Sir Frank Kitson

A former senior Army officer is to be sued over the death of a Catholic man in Northern Ireland.

Eugene "Paddy" Heenan, 47, was killed in February 1973 when a minibus carrying him and 14 others to an east Belfast building site was attacked by loyalist paramilitaries.

Mr Heenan's widow, Mary, is now taking legal action against the Ministry of Defence and General Sir Frank Kitson.

She claims her husband died because of negligence and misfeasance in office.

It is the first time a retired senior soldier has been personally sued over alleged actions during the Troubles.

Solicitor Kevin Winters of KRW Law, confirmed that proceedings had been issued against the MoD and Sir Frank Kitson on behalf of the relatives of Mr Heenan.

Sir Frank, who is now in his late 80s, rose to become Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces from 1982 to 1985.

He was in charge of military operations in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s.

He has been named as a co-defendant in the legal action.

Court papers claim Sir Frank is "liable personally for negligence and misfeasance in public office", because, in creating his policy, he was "reckless as to whether state agents would be involved in murder".

Former soldier Albert "Ginger" Baker was given a life sentence for killing Mr Heenan and three others but later claimed to have links to British intelligence.

Baker was a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) at the time of Mr Heenan's murder.

Mr Heenan, from Andersonstown, west Belfast, had been working as a foreman.

KRW Law is also instructed by a number of families who were the victims of UDA violence during the same period and this legal action is expected to be the first of a series of similar civil claims.

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