Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Victim's legal bid over collusion probe 'failings'

A Catholic taxi driver who survived repeated murder attempts has launched a High Court challenge over a former Police Ombudsman’s alleged failure to investigate security force collusion with loyalist killers.

John Flynn claims former Ombudsman Al Hutchinson did not adequately implement recommendations to examine whether agents' handlers committed any crimes.

His case was put on hold after a judge was told progress has now been made with Mr Hutchinson's successor, Dr Michael Maguire.

A notorious UVF unit — based in Mount Vernon, north Belfast — is believed to be behind two attempts to murder Mr Flynn during the 1990s.

In the first a gunman tried to ambush him as he picked up a taxi fare. A bomb was also placed under his car.

The attacks on Mr Flynn formed part of a wider probe into the Mount Vernon UVF gang's terror campaign — including a series of killings.

Operation Ballast was set up by Mr Hutchinson's predecessor, Nuala O'Loan, following a complaint by the father of murder victim Raymond McCord jnr.

Mrs O'Loan upheld allegations that paramilitary killers were protected from prosecution because they were police agents.

According to Mr Flynn's lawyers, the onus was then on Mr Hutchinson to examine alleged security force criminality once he took over as Police Ombudsman.

They have lodged judicial review papers claiming that he failed to meet a requirement set out in the Operation Ballast report.

However, it was disclosed in court yesterday that progress has been made during talks since Dr Maguire came into post.

A barrister for Mr Flynn confirmed: “There has been a meeting in which the Ombudsman has shown genuine willingness to move on the matter.”

With a further meeting due next month, Mr Justice Treacy agreed to adjourn the case until it has taken place.

Outside the court Mr Flynn's solicitor Kevin Winters said there had been “significant engagement” by the current Police Ombudsman.

He added: “The case has been adjourned to facilitate further meetings, in particular on the issue of investigating all of Operation Ballast. This case focuses on the alleged failure of the previous Ombudsman to examine alleged security force collusion and criminality.”

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