Information from UVF corrected family’s narrative – Paul Crawford

Paul Crawford was 17-years-old on January 9 1974 when his father John did not return home from work.

As the family prepared to celebrate his younger sister’s fourth birthday, they were instead plunged into the shock and grief of learning their father had been killed.

They faced years of misinformation, with a caller purporting to be from the Official IRA claiming responsibility for Mr Crawford’s killing, a rumour he had been killed by people who had tried to rob him and false allegations he had been involved in two murders.

The family went through an inquest, a criminal trial, a Police Ombudsman’s investigation and an Historical Enquiries Team investigation, but still felt the misinformation had not been addressed.

The process with the UVF came about after Mr Crawford reached out to Progressive Unionist Party members on social media in 2015 and attended a party conference where legacy was discussed with Winston Irvine.

The following year, at a conference on legacy at the Queen’s University Belfast, Mr Crawford publicly challenged Mr Irvine over his father’s murder and the pair began talking and started working together.

It took 40 meetings and countless telephone conversations across seven years, but Mr Crawford said he got what he wanted – an acknowledgement of responsibility from the UVF.

What he did not expect was to receive a report from the UVF, printed on UVF headed paper, with all the collated information he had been given on his father’s murder.

Mr Crawford said the information they received corrected a number of things they had believed, including where their father had been killed.

It included their rationale, the sequence of events and timings.

Paul Crawford
Paul Crawford verified every piece of information he received (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Crawford emphasised that he verified every piece of information he received.

He said there had been “good will, honesty and integrity” shown across the process, and received “full answers”.

“Throughout the process I was crystal clear that I wanted explanation, not justification,” he said.

Asked whether he had been offered an apology, Mr Crawford said he was but he had refused it, saying he believed if he accepted an apology it was tantamount to saying it was OK.

He also pointed out that far from just the one person who was jailed for his father’s killing, there had been a number of people involved, from those who carried out the killing to those who planned it and those who ordered it, and queried whether they would all be sorry.

Mr Crawford said the two sides agreed to refer back to the apology which Gusty Spence issued on behalf of the UVF when he announced their ceasefire in 1994.