Spicer pulls out of London conference

Campaigners for the family of Peter McBride claimed a victory yesterday after former Scots Guards officer Lt Col Tim Spicer pulled out of a speaking engagement at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Jean McBride had planned to attend the conference, in the hope of confronting Spicer over his support for Mark Wright and James Fisher, the two soldiers convicted of murdering her son Peter in Belfast in 1992. Spicer is currently chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, a private military company which holds US and UN security contracts in Iraq worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Aegis co-sponsored yesterday’s conference, where Spicer had been due to speak in a session on civilian/military co-operation chaired by Col Tim Collins.

Campaigners from the Pat Finucane Centre learned that Spicer had pulled out when they handed in a letter of protest at the RUSI building in Whitehall following a demonstration. A spokesperson for the Institute later said Spicer had pulled out due to business commitments.

The decision marks the second time Spicer has abandoned an engagement targeted by human rights campaigners. In February 2004, he pulled out of a planned lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London after students threatened protests.

PFC Spokesman Paul O’Connor said: "he is someone who should not be dealing with civilian/military matters whatsoever."

"Someone who says that to shoot a teenager in the back does not constitute murder, is not someone who should be winning US Government contracts or UN contracts."

Yesterday’s developments came as SDLP leader Mark Durkan was due to put down a parliamentary motion calling for a change in the law to prevent the British Army retaining convicted human rights abusers like Guardsmen Wright and Fisher. The move follows the parliamentary launch on Monday of the End Impunity Campaign, which has already received backing from a number of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.







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