AOAV: all our reportsMilitarism examinedUK Special Forces

MoD face scrutiny over SAS shooting video in Francis Bradley inquest

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is facing calls for clarity regarding its knowledge of a video that potentially captures the moment a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) fatally shot Francis Bradley, a man from Co Derry, in 1986. The inquiry into the existence and content of this video forms a critical part of the ongoing inquest into Bradley’s death, which some suspect was the result of a “shoot-to-kill” policy by the British Army.

Francis Bradley was 20 years old when he was killed near an arms dump in the vicinity of Toome, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in February 1986. Posthumously, Bradley was recognised on the roll of honour by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), indicating his association with the organisation. The inquest, which began last year, had previously been informed of Bradley’s claims about being threatened by police prior to his death.

The revelation of the video’s existence came to light during a session of the inquest last week. It was disclosed that a former SAS member, referred to as Soldier U, had made a statement claiming that the shooting was captured by a helicopter-mounted camera, which he had later viewed. According to Soldier U, the video showed soldiers moving towards the location near where Bradley met his death.

Amidst the inquest, Karen Quinlivan KC, representing the Bradley family, raised questions about when the MoD became aware of the video. Her inquiries highlight a potential gap in the timeline of the MoD’s admission of knowledge regarding the video, pressing for a detailed account of the MoD’s actions upon learning of the video’s existence.

Coroner Peter Irvine, who is also serving as a Crown Court judge for this inquest, noted that he was only made aware of the video a few days before Quinlivan’s inquiry, suggesting a possible oversight or delay in the MoD’s handling or communication of evidence crucial to the inquest.

In response to the queries raised, an MoD lawyer stated that efforts were being made to locate and examine the video. He assured that there would be consultations with the relevant departments to ascertain the actions taken to identify and secure the video footage.

Dr Iain Overton of Action on Armed Violence said of this matter: “This development has raised concerns about the procedures for managing critical evidence in judicial inquiries and the accountability of military and defence entities in such processes. The effectiveness and transparency of the MoD’s response in the coming days are deemed essential for addressing the Bradley family’s concerns and ensuring the integrity of the inquest. The central issue remains the uncovering of the full circumstances surrounding Francis Bradley’s death and the potential impact of the video in shedding light on the events of that day in 1986.”