HC Deb 28 October 1998 vol 318 c210W
23. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on the case of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright. [54784]

Mr. Ingram

Guardsmen Fisher and Wright were released on life licence by the Secretary of State on 2 September 1998. This decision took into account that while the Secretary of State had been carrying out a review of the cases, the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 became law. Although she was aware that the Guardsmen had applied to the Sentence Review Commission for early release, the Secretary of State was conscious that the Sentences Act enables the early release of prisoners who were engaged in terrorism. The Guardsmen were in Northern Ireland as a consequence of that terrorism and committed the offence while on duty to counter it. At the time of her decision the Secretary of State was also aware that the first possible releases under the Sentences Act could have taken place from 7 September onwards.

Taking all these factors into account, and having consulted me Lord Chief Justice as required by statute, the Secretary of State decided that the Guardsmen should be released on life licence under the Prison Act 1953.