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Sir Galahad bombing: Secret Falklands War files set for release

Sir Galahad on fire
Of the 48 soldiers who died on the Sir Galahad, 32 were from the Welsh Guards

Two secret Falklands War files related to the Sir Galahad bombing could soon be released, a minister has said.

The Sir Galahad, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship, was sunk by the Argentinian air force on 8 June, 1982.

The ship and sister vessel Sir Tristram lost 48 crew members, including 32 Welsh guards, with many more injured.

Declassified documents released last year revealed confusion, delays and missed opportunities to move them to safety.

The Welsh Guards had previously been blamed for not leaving the ship earlier, leaving it vulnerable to attack.

On Monday, defence minister Andrew Murrison told the Commons that the UK government was considering releasing the files related to the disaster within months, subject to legal checks.

Former minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith was among the MPs urging the government to unseal the files to exonerate soldiers who had their "reputations trashed".

Sir Iain told MPs: "There is no question now that there was some kind of a cover-up that took place."

He asked whether the release of the documents would mean "that those who have died and have had their reputations trashed can actually stand up and say proudly it wasn't them?".

Dr Murrison replied: "The board of inquiry is quite clear about the attribution of blame and the Welsh Guards were absolutely exonerated, and that is the government's position."

Kate Gibby, whose father Mark Gibby was killed onboard the Sir Galahad, said she felt "overwhelmed".

Ms Gibby, 42, from Rhondda Cynon Taf, told BBC Wales she welcomed the minister's announcement but that all the documents relating to the ship must be released.

"I am over the moon that Dr Murrison has said publicly that the Welsh guards have been exonerated of any blame.

"Now the nation knows after they have been belittled and blamed for almost 42 years.

"We won't stop until the full inquiry is released and we get justice for our heroes who paid the ultimate price."

Ms Gibby said she believes the ship should never have been where it was

"As a 10-year-old my first question was: 'Why were they there in daylight mam, like sitting ducks?'."

" I've never been able to understand."

Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, said: "On Saturday I attended the first remembrance and reunion event for the survivors and the families of those who were lost on the attack on Sir Galahad.

"It is deeply important the remaining documents from the board of inquiry are released so we can get to the truth of what happened on 8 June, 1982."

Mr Murrison told MPs: "I recognise the substantial public and parliamentary interest in this matter. Consequently, I visited very recently the National Archives in Kew to review the RFA Sir Galahad files.

"As a result, we are looking to release a further two files subject to MoD (Ministry of Defence) legal confirming that individuals' rights under the Data Protection Act would not be contravened.

"In relation to the five files of witness statements I want maximum transparency, subject to the Public Records Act and ensuring personal data is protected, and I will provide further updates shortly."