Monday, 10 November 2008

Lord Saville and the Bloody Sunday enquiry

Lord Saville's enquiry into the events surrounding Bloody Sunday makes the Lady Diana Spencer inquest seem the absolute model of brevity and commonsense. Now the news is that he has postponed his report for another year.

His enquiry actually has a remarkable similarity to Diana's inquest in that just about everyone knows what happened, and consequently the conclusion that is likely to be reached. It would have saved a lot of time and money if our Government, which has certainly known all along what happened, had simply owned up and apologised. All the more remarkable that it didn't, given that in general the only mistakes Tony Blair wasn't prepared to apologise for were his own.

The enquiry stopped hearing witnesses four years ago yet it has proved a continuing gravy train for members of the legal profession. Even now, when you'd have thought that there was little left to fund beyond a supply of quill pens, ink and paper it is costing more than Jonathan Ross' BBC salary (the one he was getting before he was suspended that is).

You can keep up-to-date with Lord Saville's progress in some detail through the enquiry's own website. Unfortunately, you will also need considerable telepathic powers to do so since the website has not been updated for several years now.

I'd like to save Lord Saville time and effort (he could have had my advice ten years and £182m ago if he'd asked). Some members of the Paratroop Regiment opened fire on demonstrators without good cause, and 14 innocent people died as a consequence. Given all the circumstances during the 'troubles', it is surprising that this was in most respects a unique event. Lord Widgery's report was a shameful whitewash. The families of those who died should be offered an unreserved apology (and compensation if that's what they want) and we should move on.

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