J P Cunningham Press Release

KRW LAW LLP is instructed on behalf of the family of John Patrick Cunningham.


John Patrick Cunningham (27) was shot by the British Army on 15th June 1974 at Carrickness, Benburb, Northern Ireland.


Dennis Hutchings was a soldier with the Lifeguards Regiment. Two charges of attempted murder and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent were bought against him in 2015 relating to the death of J P Cunningham.


The trial of Dennis Hutchings is due to commence on 9th March 2020.


Earlier today in Parliament at Westminster during PMQs the following exchange took place:


Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con)


“Corporal Dennis Hutchings received a letter in 1974 saying that he would not be prosecuted in connection with a shooting incident that took place in Northern Ireland. He was then investigated again in 2011 and told there were no further grounds for taking any action. Does the Prime Minister accept that if Dennis Hutchings goes to trial on 9 March, all the assurances, promises and manifesto commitments will amount to nothing more than meaningless empty platitudes?”


The Prime Minister


“It is to rectify matters such as the one to which my hon. Friend draws the House’s attention that this Government are finally bringing in a law to prevent the vexatious prosecution of our hard-working, hard-serving veterans when no new evidence has been produced.” Hansard PMQs 26 02 2020


KRW LAW LLP has had to make representations to the relevant law officers in Northern Ireland to ensure that due process, the integrity of the Rule of Law and the sanctity of the independence of the criminal justice system are preserved in this matter.


Niall Murphy, Solicitor Advocate and Partner KRW LAW LLP said:


“We will not hesitate to refer this intervention back to the court. The independence of the judicial process is sacrosanct. We will not tolerate attempted political intervention of this kind.”


In its own Report, the House of Commons Procedure Committee “The Sub Judice Rule of the House of Commons” (16th March 2005) noted:


“Even if … the case is being heard by an experienced judge on his own, nonetheless there is a perception created which might after the event lead the person who was on the wrong side of the judge’s judgment to say ‘It was the House of Commons interfering; otherwise I would have got proper justice’.” The Joint Committee said: “Restrictions on media comment are limited to not prejudicing the trial, but Parliament needs to be especially careful: it is important constitutionally, and essential for public confidence, that the judiciary should be seen to be independent of political pressures”.


The Committee concluded:


“We remind Members that they should not utter anything on the floor of the House which would affect the evaluation of the merits of proceedings which are imminent or before the courts, or influence the result of proceedings, in particular the likelihood of an acquittal.”


During PMQs today both the spirit and the letter of the sub judice rule appear to have been ignored and the integrity of the trial of Dennis Hutchings compromised – and the trial of the family of J. P. Cunningham intensified.