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  • Bloody Sunday

image captionColum Eastwood said there should be no amnesties for people accused of Troubles-related murders

The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has used parliamentary privilege to identify a former soldier facing two murder charges over his actions on Bloody Sunday.

The Foyle MP named Soldier F during a debate in the House of Commons on the Armed Forces Bill on Tuesday afternoon.

The soldier is also facing five attempted murder charges.

He had been granted anonymity by the judge hearing the case.

The BBC is not naming Soldier F for legal reasons.

The ancient right of parliamentary privilege gives MPs unrestricted free speech in the Commons chamber allowing them to name names without the risk of legal action.

Colum Eastwood used that right of privilege to name Soldier F.

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After naming him, the Foyle MP said: "For 50 years he has been granted anonymity and now the government want to grant him an amnesty.

"No one involved in murder during the Troubles should be granted an amnesty."

image copyrightHandout/Wray familyimage captionSoldier F is accused of the murders of William McKinney (left) and James Wray

Speaking outside parliament, Mr Eastwood told the BBC: "Over the past couple of weeks his name has been plastered on Free Derry Corner, it has gone viral on social media.

"The people of Derry know his name. There is no reason for him to be granted anonymity.

"No other perpetrator involved would be given anonymity, for some reason Soldier F is a protected species."

'Reckless and downright dangerous'

Soldier F is facing two murder charges over the killings of William McKinney and James Wray and five attempted murder charges for his actions on Bloody Sunday in 1972 when 13 people were shot dead by paratroopers.

He was granted anonymity after the judge hearing the case concluded "a real risk does exist" to the life of Soldier F and he is right to "feel genuine fear".

But the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said it planned to withdraw the charges after reviewing the case and decided statements were no longer admissible evidence.

The case was due to be formally dismissed in court last week, but a legal challenge by a brother of William McKinney forced an adjournment.

Leave has been granted for a judicial review into the PPS's decision not to proceed with the prosecution.

The case is due to be heard in September.

Gregory Campbell from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) described Mr Eastwood's decision to identify Soldier F as "reckless and downright dangerous".

"I will be writing to the Speaker and the Commissioner for Standards. The Foyle MP's behaviour falls well below that expected of someone in his position, especially when the courts have made clear that to name this person could jeopardise life," the DUP MP said.

Mr Campbell, who represents the East Londonderry constituency, added: "The DUP does not believe in an amnesty for anyone who perpetrated wrongful actions.

"Far too many terrorists have already been released early. Everyone must be equal under the law."

image copyrightREUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyneimage captionFormer veterans' minister Johnny Mercer accused Mr Eastwood of "mis-using parliamentary privilege"

Former veterans' minister Johnny Mercer also said Mr Eastwood should be sanctioned for his "unnecessary and dangerous" move.

In a social media post he accused Mr Eastwood of "mis-using parliamentary privilege".

"I have never defended this man, but I will defend his right to a fair process," Mr Mercer said.