Belfast Telegraph

Belfast estate agent battles to get his gun licence back

A Northern Ireland estate agent denied a gun licence for allegedly associating with loyalist paramilitaries has won High Court permission to challenge the decision.

Philip Johnston was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the refusal to renew a firearms certificate he previously held for 20 years.

A judge was told he had used it for recreational pursuits.

He relinquished it following his arrest in 2005 as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering involving murdered Ulster Defence Association boss Jim Gray.

All charges against him were subsequently withdrawn.

Mr Johnston's certificate was never revoked, but when he sought to renew it last year the application was blocked.

His barrister, Frank O'Donoghue QC, said: “That objection has been described as associating with paramilitaries.”

The application for a licence was refused by the Chief Constable and upheld on appeal to the Secretary of State.

But Mr O'Donoghue argued that the denial of a firearms certificate was irrational.

He stressed his client's clear record, adding that he only knew through Gray through renting him an apartment.

Mr Justice Treacy ruled that Mr Johnston's legal team had established an arguable case.

His decision means the case can proceed to a full judicial review hearing listed for February next year.

Belfast Telegraph

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