The Court of Appeal in Belfast has ruled that there is no lawful reason for two British soldiers who were convicted of murdering a Catholic teenager in Belfast in 1992 to be allowed to remain in the Scots Guards.

However, the judges stopped short of ordering the British Army to dismiss them.

They were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, but were later released and rejoined their regiment.

Eighteen-year-old Peter McBride was shot dead by British soldiers in the New Lodge area of Belfast in September 1992.

Later, two members of the Scots Guards, Mark Wright and James Fisher, were convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

After serving six years of the life term the soldiers were released from prison and allowed to rejoin their regiment.

It is understood that they were serving in Basra in Iraq during the recent war. Since the soldiers' release, the family of Peter McBride has fought through the courts to have them dismissed from the British Army.

And the pressure of the British military authorities to do just that is likely to increase following today's ruling by the Belfast Appeal Court.

In a majority decision, the court ruled that there was no lawful reason for the two soldiers to be retained in the British Army, although they stopped short of ordering that the guardsmen Fisher and Wright they be dismissed from the force.

However the North's Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell said that while there was no legal compulsion on the British military to take any action in relation to the retention or discharge of the soldiers, it could take such course as it thinks fit.

After the hearing Peter McBride's mother Jean said the ruling was a major victory for the family and she urged the Government to keep up the pressure on the British authorities to ensure the soldiers were soon dismissed.