Belfast Telegraph

Loughgall IRA shooting: bid to exclude PSNI from inquest verdict challenge

By Alan Erwin

The PSNI should be excluded from a legal challenge to the inquest verdict on the killing of two IRA men, the High Court heard today.

Lawyers for the family of one of the Provisionals shot dead by SAS soldiers argued that the police service is not directly affected by the proceedings.

A judge was told that allowing the force to participate would simply strengthen opposition to attempts to quash the findings reached on the deaths of Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew.

The pair were armed with AK47 rifles when an SAS unit opened fire on them at farm buildings near Loughgall, County Armagh in October 1990.

Neither IRA man fired any shots, provoking claims that soldiers could have arrested them instead.

But in May 2012 a jury heard that the inquest found the killings were justified.

It ruled that the soldiers had used reasonable force during the operation and that the IRA men's own actions had contributed to their deaths.

Grew and McCaughey put their own lives in danger by being in the area close to a stolen car which was expected to be used in terrorist activity, according to the verdict.

Both men were said to be armed with guns, wearing gloves, balaclavas and were approaching soldiers who believed that their lives were in immediate danger.

McCaughey's sister, Sally Gribben, is seeking to have the inquest verdict overturned at a judicial review hearing listed for March.

With both the coroner and Ministry of Defence (MOD) said to be resisting the case, her legal team today applied to have the PSNI kept out.

Karen Quinlivan QC contended that it would be against the interests of justice to allow police to participate.

She said the force has no role to play in the three key areas to be examined:

 :: The failure to secure the re-attendance at the inquest of Soldier A to answer questions about his alleged role in the fatal shooting of another IRA man, Francis Bradley, four years earlier.

 :: The failure to disclose to next of kin the roles of soldiers in other lethal force incidents, and the consequent inability to deploy such information at the inquest.

 :: The decision to sit with a jury.

Ms Quinlivan claimed the challenge was just to decisions made by the coroner and "urged on" the coroner by the MOD.

"In essence the PSNI's participation simply operates to secure additional opposition to the applicant's application, and to bolster the position advanced by the MOD for reasons yet to be explained," she said.

"It is contended that the PSNI should take no further part in these proceedings."

Following submissions Mr Justice Weatherup confirmed he will rule next week on the bid to have the police excluded.

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