Convicted soldier to appeal to Lords

Roger Pearson looks ahead

The House of Lords is to hear an appeal by a soldier jailed for life for murder after a car passenger was killed in a shooting incident in Northern Ireland. He has now been given leave to challenge his conviction.

Lee William Clegg, a private with the Parachute Regiment, was given a life sentence by the Northern Ireland Crown Court on 29 January 1992, after being convicted of murder.

In September 1990 Clegg fired four shots, which resulted in a car passenger being killed and another seriously wounded. He faced one charge of murder and another of causing malicious wounding.

When the case came before the Crown Court the jury found that in respect of the first three shots there was a reasonable possibility that Clegg had fired in the honest belief that he was doing so in defence of a fellow soldier. However, in respect of the fourth shot the judge found that there was not sufficient evidence to raise any of the defences provided for in the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967.

Clegg's original appeal was dismissed by the Northern Ireland Criminal Appeal Court on 30 March 1994, but now the House of Lords Appellate Committee has given leave for him to mount a full House of Lords challenge.

The argument the House of Lords will hear will be centred on whether a soldier or police officer is guilty of manslaughter rather than murder if he kills someone during the course of his duty by firing a shot with the intention of killing or wounding, but he has fired in self-defence, in defence of another, in a bid to prevent a crime, or in assisting the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders.