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IRA agent murder claim evidence to be heard behind closed doors

By Alan Erwin

Legal action against the Ministry of Defence and PSNI over a murder allegedly committed by a secret agent inside the IRA will be partly heard behind closed doors, a High Court judge has ruled.

The MoD and Chief Constable were granted permission to present some of their defence against claims by the mother of victim Eoin Morley at a secret hearing.

Eilish Morley is suing both over the killing of her son by the IRA in Newry, Co Down in 1990.

She is also taking action against Peter Keeley, widely reported as using the pseudonym Kevin Fulton, for allegedly carrying out the killing while an agent of the Army's Force Research Unit (FRU).

Masked men dragged the victim from his girlfriend's house in the Derrybeg estate and shot him twice. He had been a member of the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO), a republican paramilitary splinter group.

A subsequent investigation by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan concluded that the RUC failed to properly investigate Morley's killing. However, she also found there had been no effort by police to instigate a feud between the IRA and IPLO.

Mrs Morley is suing the MoD for either allegedly permitting the murder to take place or failing to take steps to prevent it.

She also claims the RUC failed to carry out a proper investigation, and that Special Branch officers withheld intelligence.

Lawyers representing the Chief Constable and the MoD sought a declaration that closed material applications can be made in the case.

The move, under powers contained in Section 6 of the Justice and Security Act 2013, was made to ensure no damage to national security.

During the so-called secret courts, intelligence documents are assessed only by a judge and special advocates there to protect the interests of plaintiffs, who are shut out from the hearings.

The MoD does not admit that Keeley was one of its employees, the court heard. It also denies negligence and all other claims.

Counsel for Mrs Morley argued that revealing obsolete historical operational methods could not damage national security.

However, in a newly published judgment, Mr Justice Stephens held that the closed material is sensitive and essential to the case. The judge confirmed he was making a declaration that a closed material application can be made, with sensitive material to be disclosed by the MoD and PSNI.

Another hearing will be held in April.

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