Fifteen former paratroopers who were facing possible murder charges in connection with Bloody Sunday will not be prosecuted, officials in Northern Ireland have confirmed.
The soldiers, who all served in the Parachute Regiment, were initially informed last year there was not enough evidence to charge them over the deaths of 13 civil rights marchers who were shot dead in Londonderry on Jan 30 1972.
Following an 11 month review the PPS today said it was upholding its original decision to only charge one veteran - who can only be identified as Solider F - in connection with the mass shooting of civilians, which took place in the early days of the Troubles.
The legal review was carried out by Marianne O’Kane, Senior Assistant Director with the PPS, who had not previously been involved in the cases.
In a statement Ms O'Kane said while she realised the announcement would upset the families of those who died, the test for prosecution had not been met in any of the cases reviewed.
She said: “I have concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of any of the 15 soldiers who were the subjects of the reviews. Accordingly, the decisions not to prosecute these 15 individuals all stand.
“I know that today’s outcome will cause further upset to those who have pursued a long and determined journey for justice over almost five decades.
“I can only offer reassurance to all of the families and victims of Bloody Sunday, and the wider community, that my decisions were conducted wholly independently and impartially, and in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors."
In March 2019 prosecutors announced they were bringing charges against Soldier F, a grandfather now in his 70s, on suspicion of the murder of James Wray and William McKinney, the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joseph Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell. He has also been charged with the attempted murder of a person unknown.
But prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to charge any of his comrades.
The families of those who died subsequently handed over a 149-page dossier arguing that charges of murder and attempted murder should be brought against 15 others.
Lawyers for the family also asked prosecutors to consider bringing three further murder charges and two additional attempted murder charges against Soldier F.
Ciaran Shiels, a solicitor representing the families of those killed described the decision by the PPS to bring no further prosecutions as "deeply disappointing".
"The families are left with no alternative now but to consider judicial review proceedings in the High Court in Belfast," he said.
Mickey McKinney, whose brother Willie was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, also voiced his disappointment.
"This is part of a process which will hopefully get us a judicial review and hopefully we will get a result that more soldiers will be prosecuted," he said.
Seventeen veterans of Bloody Sunday faced a criminal inquiry launched in 2012 after the conclusion of a 12-year public inquiry that found none of those shot by troops were armed and that soldiers had "knowingly put forward false accounts to justify their firing".
Lawyers for the victims have complained that the PPS - in bringing charges solely against Soldier F - had "erred in law" in concluding that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction for any more of the soldiers under investigation.