Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Belfast man can challenge gun licence ban

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A Belfast man denied a fresh gun licence over allegations of associating with a proscribed organisation can challenge the prohibition, the High Court ruled today.

William Albert Carrigan is seeking to overturn the Secretary of State's decision not to renew a firearms certificate he held for nearly 25 years.

His lawyers were granted permission to seek a judicial review after arguing insufficient reasons were given for the revocation.

The 56-year-old, from the east of the city, was informed last year that his licence was not being renewed.

The only information supplied was that the decision was based on his alleged link to an unnamed illegal organisation.

Mr Carrigan denies associating with any proscribed grouping.

It was contended that the lack of details denied him the chance to comment on and properly refute the allegations. 

He also questioned whether his case had been properly considered.

During a hearing to determine whether he has an arguable case Mr Justice Treacy pointed out that Mr Carrigan had held a licence for almost a quarter of a century.

Adrian Colmer, for the Secretary of State, contended that the issue was about current fitness to have a certificate.

He said: "There is this balance to be struck between the public interest and protecting safety, and the private interest in holding a firearm.

"More often than not, when there's a conflict between the public and private interest the public interest will prevail."

Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy decided to grant leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision.

"It seems to me there is an arguable case," he said.

A full hearing of the challenge will now take place in September.

Mr Carrigan's barrister, Jonathan Dunlop, reaffirmed that his client did not have access to the material which the decision was based on.

He told the court: "It may be whatever reasons are advanced will be things Mr Carrigan will wish to comment on."

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