IRA bomb victim's brother granted legal aid to sue Hyde Park suspect

The brother of a newlywed soldier killed in the IRA's Hyde Park bombing has said he is elated that legal aid has finally been granted to take a civil case against one of the alleged bombers.

Relatives of the four Royal Household Cavalrymen murdered in the July 1982 blast intend to take a civil case against Co Donegal man John Downey.

The 66-year-old has denied murdering the soldiers.

After being denied legal aid five times to help launch the civil action, the funds have finally been granted.

Mark Tipper, whose  brother Simon was killed in the IRA's Hyde Park bombing (David Young/PA)

Mark Tipper, whose 19-year-old brother Simon was killed, said the funds will help the families in their quest for the truth.

"I'm elated that we have got this far. There has been a lot of fighting to get to this day," said Mr Tipper.

"I honestly didn't think we would get legal aid. When you have been refused five times, you just don't think it will ever come about.

Hyde Park bomb
Four soldiers and seven horses were killed when an IRA bomb was detonated in London's Hyde Park on July 20 1982 as members of the Household Cavalry were passing (PA)

"Now we are at the stage where the funding is in place and we can start for the first time really looking forward and trying to get chief suspect John Downey into a civil court.

"We,  as the public, if we can do this, it might help other victims find the strength to carry on forward," said Mr Tipper.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan, who has been supporting the families, hailed it as an important step forward for the Hyde Park Justice Campaign.

Hyde Park bomb justice campaign
Former Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan (Philip Toscano/PA)

"For over three decades the families have lived in the hope that they would see justice being delivered for their loved ones. I hope that day has now come one step closer," the former MP added.

Downey was charged with the Hyde Park murders and stood trial at the Old Bailey in 2013.

But the case dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair's government that he was no longer wanted.

The letter was issued under the terms of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) scheme.

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that Downey's arrest at Gatwick Airport, as he transited the UK on the way to a holiday, represented an abuse of process and he put a stay on any future prosecution.

Downey has always denied any involvement in the attack.

The families of the murdered soldiers are now pursing a civil case against him and have served a writ signalling their intent.

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