15:48 GMT18 May 2021
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    Last month Johnny Mercer resigned as a defence minister in protest at the treatment of British veterans who served in Northern Ireland. Mr Mercer had then attended the trial in Belfast of two former soldiers accused of a murder during The Troubles.

    Two former soldiers have walked free after their trial for the murder of an IRA man in 1972 collapsed.

    Soldier A and Soldier C, both in their 70s, had denied murdering Joe McCann, 24, who was shot in controversial circumstances in the Markets area of Belfast in April 1972.

    Johnny Mercer, a former British Army officer who quit as defence minister last month over the treatment of veterans who served in Northern Ireland welcomed the outcome.

    ​McCann was a member of the Official IRA - from which the Provisional IRA broke away - and had been trying avoid being arrested when he was shot and killed.

    The soldiers admitted firing shots but claimed it was in self-defence.

    ​They were interviewed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) in 2010 and eventually prosecuted.

    But last week a judge ruled the HET evidence was inadmissible and on Tuesday, 4 May, the Public Prosecution Service said it would not be appealing against his ruling.

     

     

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