A FORMER British soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles will return his medal if Soldier F is prosecuted for murder.

Martin Ledbury of Worcester who served in the Royal Artillery said he will send back his treasured Northern Ireland medal in protest if the paratrooper is prosecuted for the killing of two people on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.

City-born Mr Ledbury who joined the Royal Artillery as a 16-year-old has been involved in various tours in Northern Ireland since 1978, serving in Lurgan and Portadown in County Armagh where he performed peace-keeping duties, went out on patrol, searched for weapons with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and confronted IRA targets. He estimates he was about 100 yards away from a bombing in Lurgan High Street in November 1978.

The 59-year-old father who lives near Newtown Road in Worcester said he felt solidarity with Soldier F, describing him as ‘part of the brotherhood’ and ‘family’ of soldiers.

The former Christopher Whitehead pupil said: “He has been very unfairly treated. He’s a scapegoat. I feel angry that there has been this betrayal of trust. We were only doing what we were ordered to do, taking the Queen’s shilling and obeying orders.

“ I was there in the heart of the Troubles. We all risked our lives for our country and this is how we are treated. We feel it’s one rule for the terrorists and another for us.”

Mr Ledbury described receiving his Northern Ireland medal at the age of 19 as one of the proudest moments of his life and he said it was a source of anger and regret that he now felt compelled to take such a drastic step.

Because of his service in Northern Ireland he was promoted from gunner to lance bombardier.

He learned of the plan to prosecute Soldier F on social media. “I couldn’t believe it. He was just doing his job. It shouldn’t have happened” he said.

Mr Ledbury said he has been in contact with ex-paratrooper, corporal Jim Kenyon, the former mayor of Hereford, who has already sent back his Northern Ireland medal to Downing Street in protest.

He was one of three veterans to return his medal along with 23 white feathers – one for each member of the Cabinet, saying they represent ‘cowardice’ in the face of the enemy.

Mr Kenyon said other veterans have contacted him to say they would also hand back their medals in protest. He has argued that the Good Friday Agreement should have involved an amnesty for all involved in the Troubles and that it was wrong for the UK Government to allow the prosecution to go ahead after so many years.

However, he advised Mr Ledbury to hold back on returning his medal to see how the government responds to the ongoing protest.

Mr Ledbury said: “If nothing happens we will send our medals back and there will be a letter to the Prime Minister.

The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland has said there is enough evidence to prosecute Soldier F, a former paratrooper, for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney.

He has also been charged with four attempted murders on Bloody Sunday.

The single prosecution has been criticised by some of the families of the 13 people killed.

They were shot dead at a civil rights march on January 30, 1972 which became known as the Northern Ireland Troubles.