Cabinet Office Complaint To Parliamentary Ombudsman

The McGurk’s Bar Massacre families have been forced to make a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman against the British Cabinet Office just days before the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.

As far as the families are aware, this is the first complaint of its kind to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman regarding a conflict legacy case and the Cabinet Office.

The complaint concerns:

(1)   The Cabinet Office’s decision not to investigate a serious complaint regarding a high-level, coordinated and sustained plot by senior members of the Civil Service, British Army, and RUC to deceive both Stormont and Westminster governments about the true circumstances of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre;

(2)   The Cabinet Office’s handling of the original complaint which was first raised in December 2020.

The original complaint to the Cabinet Office on 11th December 2020 also included a request to the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, for an investigation following the publication of a report by family campaigner, Ciarán MacAirt.

The report, The McGurk’s Bar Bombing and the Plot to Deceive Two Parliaments includes new evidence from secret British military and governmental archives proving that senior public servants lied to government ministers about the McGurk’s Bar Massacre which claimed the lives of 15 civilians including 2 children.

The plot and disinformation involved both Prime Ministers, Brian Faulkner and Edward Heath; the General Officer Commanding, Lt. General Sir Harry Tuzo; Brigadier Frank Kitson; RUC Chief Constable Graham Shillington and his head of Special Branch, as well as leading Civil Servants across a number of government departments.

The disinformation included blaming the victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre for the bombing following a secret agreement between the British Army and RUC hours after the explosion, and before all victims had even been identified [PDF 4]; and burying evidence which proved that the British Army and RUC knew that the victims were innocent, and the bar had been attacked [PDF 8].

Colum Eastwood MP, leader of the SDLP, counter-signed and submitted the complaint to PHSO on behalf of the families last Wednesday (24th November 2021).

Family campaigner and researcher, Ciarán MacAirt said:

“After undue delay, the Cabinet Office denied us access to an investigation despite new evidence of a high-level, coordinated and sustained plot by public servants and Government Departments to mislead Stormont and Westminster about the McGurk’s Bar Massacre, and thereby influence the policies of two democratically elected Parliaments.”

“The Cabinet Office denied it is responsible for handling this complaint and referred it to the Ministry of Defence for investigation.”

“I have been forced to raise a complaint with Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman as I believe this decision is wrong.”

Only the Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Office can conduct a thorough investigation across Government Departments involving such high-level public servants who peddled lies to Government Ministers and withheld relevant facts.

“Furthermore, the secret files prove that senior British Army commanders and MoD Civil Servants were complicit in the plot, so the MoD cannot and should not investigate itself.”

“Finally, after inordinate delay on its part, the MoD then informed me that it cannot comment as ‘the events at McGurk’s Bar are currently subject to civil litigation’. MoD has no intention of investigating itself for its part in the cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.”

“During the denial and delay of mishandling this complaint over the last year, two of our family members have died and gone to their grave without truth or justice from the British state. This is Britain’s simple but highly damaging strategy for dealing with the legacy of its human rights abuses during the conflict: denial, delay, and death.”

“Half a century later and our families still have to fight for scraps of truth and justice from the British state.”

Read the Report

You can download and read the report which includes the original complaint and request for an investigation along with the new archival evidence:

The McGurk’s Bar Bombing and the Plot to Deceive Two Parliaments