ON 20 July, 1982, a former colleague and friend of mine was killed by the IRA.
Lieutenant Anthony Daly was leading his mounted troop to Whitehall for the Changing of the Guard ceremony when the nail bomb detonated.
Anthony and two other soldiers of the Blues and Royals were killed outright, as were seven horses.
Another soldier died from his injuries four days later.
About two hours after this outrage, a second bomb ripped through a bandstand in Regents Park, killing seven bandsmen from the Royal Green Jackets.
No one has ever been charged with this barbarous act, while the terrorist responsible for the Hyde Park bomb is free due to so-called ‘comfort letters’ issued by the Government.
Now move forward nearly 50 years.
In just under a week, Northern Irish prosecutors will decide whether to charge four former paratroopers with murder after 28 unarmed civilians were shot, 14 of whom died, during a protest march in Londonderry in 1972.
No one is saying this behaviour was acceptable, but so much time has elapsed that I do not see how a fair trial is possible.
Over the years, the soldiers have endured, first, the Widgery Report, then the 12-year, £200 million, Saville Inquiry, then a seven-year investigation by police and prosecutors.
Now in their 60s and 70s, they could face jail in their twilight years.
Remember, these men did not go out to take life, while the terrorist did.
Young squaddies at the time, the soldiers were undoubtedly terrified and, as the Saville Inquiry reported, “lost control”.
Their commanders and the politicians who sent them into this situation are all now dead and beyond accountability.
This so-called justice looks and smells like a sell-out.
And I’ve been there before with Sergeant Blackman.