Statement from the family of John Pat Cunningham after the unveiling of a memorial to Dennis Hutchings at Palace Barracks
| 20 September 2022
This week (20.09.22) the PFC wrote to the NIO seeking a response to the two statements released by the family of John Pat Cunningham, reproduced below. At the family's request we have asked the new Secretary of State, Chris Heaton -Harris, for a response.
STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF JOHN PAT CUNNINGHAM 22.08.22
The Cunningham family accept the right of all citizens to honour and commemorate their dead but, in the specific circumstances of this week’s (22.08.22) events, would like to ask the Ministry of Defence the basis for allowing a monument to be erected on MoD property given that:
Dennis Hutchings did not die on active service but passed away of natural causes.
He had been charged with attempted murder and died during his trial
He had never offered any explanation of his actions to police on the day that John-Pat was shot dead (either by himself or Soldier H)?
He refused to cooperate with the RUC in the immediate aftermath
He made no mention at the time or in recent interviews with the PSNI that he had ‘fired in the air’
They would also like to ask the MoD what efforts, if any, were made to consult them over erecting a monument to the man accused of murdering John-Pat, a vulnerable adult who posed no threat?
Also they would ask the MoD if there are plans to erect monuments to other soldiers who pass away while there remain unresolved legal actions against them - such as Soldier F (who stands accused of murder on Bloody Sunday)?
The Cunningham family would also ask the Newsletter what efforts were made, if any, to ask for their views on the monument before it ran a full-page story on the event?
FURTHER STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF JOHN PAT CUNNINGHAM ON THE MEMORIAL TO DENNIS HUTCHINGS IN A BELFAST BRITISH ARMY BASE (25.8.22)
We the family of John Pat Cunningham are calling on the Secretary of State Shailesh Vara and the MoD to intervene and ensure the removal of the memorial stone to Dennis Hutchings from Palace Barracks. The custodian of the garden has clarified that it is reserved for service personnel who were killed in the course of duty. Dennis Hutchings died from natural causes. More importantly the only three plausible scenarios regarding the murder of John Pat all involve criminal behaviour by Hutchings.
1) He shot John Pat in the back and was guilty of murder.
2) A soldier under his command and in his presence murdered John Pat and Hutchings withheld this evidence from the RUC and more recently from the PSNI.
or, 3) realising after the trial had started that he had offered no defence in interviews he falsely accused a dead colleague who could no longer defend himself. ALL THREE SCENARIOS INVOLVE CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR. There is no honour in any of these alternatives.
How do other veterans and the family of soldier B (H.M) feel about Hutchings blaming a dead comrade? Do the family of H.M know ? Hutchings family should place the memorial stone as they see fit in Cornwall and they can be left to grieve. For our part we are unable to find peace because of this provocation. It is an affront to us for this memorial to be situated in a British army base on Irish soil. We had no wish to revisit this traumatic event but have been left with no alternative because of the callousness of others. Secretary of State remove this stone. END