A display case in the Museum of Free Derry

Bloody Sunday Trust loses high court battle over £210,000 museum bill

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 14.11.2019
Charity disputed costs incurred during Museum of Free Derry redevelopment
The Bloody Sunday Trust has lost a high court case over a £210,000 bill for work carried out during the redevelopment of the Museum of Free Derry.

The trust, which runs the museum, had refused to pay the fees to a consortium of construction firms, claiming they were excessive and in some cases duplicated, and raising allegations of fraud.

But a judge at the High Court has ruled that the consortium is entitled to the full sum and rejected any suggestion of deceit by the consortium.

The Museum of Free Derry is a grassroots institution set up by relatives of the 13 civilians killed by British soldiers in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre. It covers the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, the Troubles and the events of Bloody Sunday.

In 2013, the trust entered into a deal with the construction firms for work relating to the museum’s extension and redevelopment. The work ceased in 2017, after the museum had already reopened, because the trust was withholding payment of a £250,000 bill. It has paid £33,000 towards that sum but disputed the remainder.

According to local press reports, the trust claimed failures and breaches in contract had resulted in it incurring £98,000 in additional costs and potentially losing £120,000 of funding if the works were not completed within a reasonable time.

In his ruling, the judge said: “In the circumstances I find that the plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment for the full sum claimed.

"The defendant has been unable to raise an issue or question to be tried or persuade the court that there is some other reason why there should be a plenary trial."

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “The Bloody Sunday Trust will be making no comment at this stage pending further discussion and advice.”