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Sister of UVF victim in legal bid to access file on murder

By Alan Erwin

Published 26/05/2016

An international body that examined the loyalist paramilitary murder of a man in broad daylight on the streets of Belfast probably knows the killers’ identities, a court has heard
An international body that examined the loyalist paramilitary murder of a man in broad daylight on the streets of Belfast probably knows the killers’ identities, a court has heard

An international body that examined the loyalist paramilitary murder of a man in broad daylight on the streets of Belfast probably knows the killers' identities, a court has heard.

Senior judges were also told the Government is under a legal obligation to disclose a report on Bobby Moffett's "public execution" - irrespective of any alleged security force collusion.

Mr Moffett's sister Irene Owens is seeking to overturn a ruling that the Secretary of State was right to refuse to hand over all material gathered by the now defunct Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

She wants the information supplied to the coroner for an inquest into her brother's murder.

Mr Moffett (43) was shot dead at point-blank range in front of shoppers and children on Belfast's Shankill Road in May 2010. No one has ever been convicted of the killing.

Months later the IMC issued a special report declaring his murder had been sanctioned by the UVF leadership.

The commission concluded that he was targeted because of his perceived flouting of UVF authority, and to send a message to the organisation and the community that this authority was not to be challenged.

In its report the IMC described the killing as a public execution, but declined to say that it amounted to a breach of the terror grouping's ceasefire.

So far only an edited version of the report has been supplied for the purposes of holding an inquest.

Ms Owens issued High Court proceedings in a bid to compel the Secretary of State to release the dossier in full. Her lawyers argued that anything less undermines the coroner's ability to oversee a human rights-compliant inquest into a murder which has raised concerns the killer may have been protected as a State agent.

Last year a judge dismissed the legal challenge after finding the Secretary of State's decision rational and lawful.

Ms Owens' legal team went before the Court of Appeal yesterday in an attempt to have the verdict overturned.

David Scoffield QC argued that Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights puts an obligation on the Secretary of State to provide the information.

The barrister told a panel of three senior judges, led by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, that the IMC regarded the killing as a "planned, premeditated, intentional attack". With the IMC no longer operating, Mr Scoffield insisted there could be no reason to withhold the material.

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