**This is late, I know:

Press release

Mc Bride family calls for boycott until MOD responds

11 August 2003

Jean Mc Bride, mother of murdered teenager Peter Mc Bride, walked out of a meeting with NIO “Human Rights Equality and Justice” Minister John Spellar MP at Stormont today. The family later called for a boycott of his office until the Ministry of Defence responds to the June Court of Appeal ruling.

When he was Armed Forces Minister, John Spellar sat on a British Army Board which ruled that the Scots Guardsmen convicted of the 1992 murder could remain serving soldiers, contrary to internal army regulations. The Court of Appeal subsequently found that no ‘exceptional reasons’ existed justifying retention of the soldiers in the British Army. The ruling of an earlier Army Board had also been overturned in the courts.

At the meeting this afternoon in Stormont, Spellar, who was described by a spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre as “ill-informed and ill-mannered”, told Gene McBride that he had no information as to “if and when” the MOD would respond to the Court of appeal judgement. He then told the mother of the murdered Belfast teenager that the question was an internal MOD matter.

Mr Spellar was reminded that it was in fact a matter for Government and that he himself had sat on the Army Boards meetings. The minister’s refusal to provide any information to the family prompted Mrs McBride to ask why he had agreed to the meeting in the first place, before walking out herself.

After a heated discussion between Mr Spellar, Mrs McBride’s daughters and a member of the Pat Finucane Centre, during which Spellar insisted that there was no contact between his office and the MOD, one of his aides intervened to say that there had, in fact been such contact. The aide told the meeting that Spellar’s office had been in touch with the ministry three days ago, but that there was still no response to the court decision. The family then insisted that the Minister’s office contact the MOD to find out when such a response could be expected.

The meeting was suspended while John Spellar’s aides contacted the MOD.

The family were then informed that there was still no movement from the MOD.

After conferring with her family, Gene McBride then informed the Minister that she would be calling for a boycott of his office until such a time as the MOD finally made a decision. Outside the meeting she then told the assembled press that she was “calling on political parties and community groups not to cooperate with the Minister for Human Rights, Equality and Justice until such a time as the MOD finally responds to the Court of Appeal decision.

Speaking before the meeting, a spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre had said “John Spellar has the Equality, Human Rights and Criminal Justice portfolios in the NIO. If he doesn’t deliver in regards to the Mc Bride case then clearly he isn’t fit to hold office.”

Spellar had earlier refused to meet Mrs Mc Bride but agreed following a boycott of his office by the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Further background at Pat Finucane Centre

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