No confidence in PSNI investigation

07 October 2013

The family of a Tyrone man murdered by British soldiers outside Benburb in 1974 have called on the PSNI to "respect the wishes of the family and stop any PSNI review or re-investigation of the killing." John Patrick Cunningham, (27) a vulnerable adult, was shot in the back by soldiers of the Life Guards Regiment in a field near Benburb in 1974. The soldiers who opened fire refused to give any explanation at the time and refused to co-operate with the HET.

Charlie Agnew, nephew of the victim said today,

"We have decided to go public at this time because the PSNI have attempted to make contact with us despite being told of our reluctance to co-operate. As a family we were prepared to suspend judgement on any actions the PSNI might take in the wake of the HET report into John Patrick. We now find ourselves in a new and very dangerous situation. Since publication of the HMIC report into the HET we have watched with growing concern as the PSNI has sought to take over all investigations into British Army killings.

It has now become obvious that the Chief Constable and the PSNI are intent on ignoring the wishes of families that there should be an independent body to investigate cases where the state was involved.

We have zero confidence in the ability of the PSNI to carry out an effective and proper investigation into the killing of our uncle John Patrick. The RUC was central to the original cover-up-the police cannot be trusted to re-investigate their own cover-up. We are appealing to the Chief Constable to respect our wishes, stop any ongoing investigation and allow for a truly independent body to investigate these cases. Each day that the PSNI is involved is an insult to the memory of an innocent man murdered by British soldiers."

Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre which has supported the family over several years said,

"The Chief Constable and the Policing Board need be under no illusions. Families will not accept PSNI involvement in those cases where state forces were involved. They are on a collision course with families, NGOs and probably the European Court of Human Rights."