Family of man waterboarded by the British Army is awarded £350,000

Family of man waterboarded in military custody while being tortured into confessing he killed a soldier is awarded £350,000

  • Liam Holden was sentenced to death following the murder of Private Frank Bell
  • The High Court in Belfast accepted the British Army tortured Mr Holden  

The family of a man who was tortured by the Parachute Regiment into a confessing that he killed a soldier has been awarded £350,000 by the High Court in Belfast.

Liam Holden was the last man to be sentenced to death by hanging in the UK after he was convicted in 1972 for the murder of soldier Private Frank Bell.

A High Court judge ruled Mr Holden had been tortured in military custody following his arrest, where soldiers used waterboarding techniques to force a confession. 

His sentence was reduced to life in prison, but the conviction was quashed in 2012. He then received £1 million in damages for the miscarriage of justice.

Mr Holden died last year at the age of 68 after launching civil proceedings for damages against the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI.

He previously gave evidence in the case.

The family of Liam Holden, pictured here in Belfast in 2012 after his murder conviction was overturned has been awarded £350,000 in damages after he was waterboarded by the British Army and tortured into confessing he killed soldier Private Frank Bell in 1972

Mr Holden, pictured outside the High Court with members of his family, died last September. He had initiated proceedings against the Ministry of Defence and the Police Service of Northern Ireland

Mr Justice Rooney said he had been an honest and truthful witness who had described traumatic experiences.

‘It is my decision that the plaintiff was subjected to waterboarding. He was hooded, He was driven in a car flanked by soldiers to a location where he thought he would be assassinated. A gun was put to his head and he was threatened that he would be shot dead,’ he said.

He went on to award damages for personal injuries, loss and damage while Mr Holden had been unlawfully detained at the Black Mountain Army Base.

He awarded the estate of Mr Holden £50,000 for waterboarding, hooding and threat to kill, £10,000 for malicious prosecution, £10,000 for misfeasance in public office, £30,000 in aggravated damages and £250,000 for special loss.

In a joint statement, Mr Holden’s son Samuel Bowden and daughter Bronagh Holden said their father was an innocent man.

‘The court has found that our father was waterboarded by the British Army in Belfast in 1972,’ they said.

‘The court also found that he was maliciously prosecuted by the army.

‘The court has today exposed the grotesque act of torture committed by the members of the Paratrooper regiment in Belfast in 1972.

‘My father was an innocent man who went to jail for a crime he did not commit for 17 years.

‘We wish he was here today with us. He died on September 15, 2022. We miss him but salute him – his life and campaign for justice were a triumph of humanity over state injustice.’

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly paid tribute to the Holden family.

‘I want to commend Liam’s family for their determination and dignity and their continued campaign for truth and justice,’ he said.

‘Today’s verdict in the courts is further vindication of that campaign.’

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