An alleged Real IRA leader who took no part in the Omagh bomb civil action still has a right to challenge a finding that he was liable for the atrocity, the Court of Appeal has heard.
Liam Campbell (47) was one of four men held responsible in a landmark ruling for the August 1998 outrage which killed 29 people, including the mother of unborn twins.
Relatives of those murdered in the blast were awarded damages of more than £1.6 million.
The verdict is now being challenged, with the victims' families pressing for exemplary damages against those held liable.
The judgment found “cogent evidence” that Mr Campbell was a member of the Real IRA at the time of the Omagh bomb.
Senior counsel for the relatives, Lord Brennan, said issues needed to be raised on Campbell's right to appeal due to his no-show at the original hearing.
But a barrister representing the suspected dissident republican chief rejected claims that he had shown no interest. Brian Fee QC told the court that Campbell was only unrepresented because he was denied legal aid funding and had no financial resources.