Belfast Telegraph

UVF murder victims' son takes legal case over probe 'failings'

By David Young

A man who claims loyalist gunmen colluded with the security forces to murder his parents has launched a legal challenge over the state's handling of the historic investigation.

Charlie and Tess Fox were gunned down in the kitchen of their isolated home in Moy, Co Tyrone, in September 1992 by a UVF gang.

Anthony Fox, one of the couple's six children, has applied for leave to take a judicial review against the UK Government, Stormont's Department of Justice and the PSNI for an alleged failure to deliver an effective probe into the shootings.

The legal challenge, which claims the authorities are in breach of human-rights law, raises concerns that examinations by both the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman have fallen victim to Stormont budget cuts, which have seen resources diverted away from Troubles investigations.

It further argues that the HET probe has been "tainted and undermined" by a reliance on ballistic evidence that has now been discredited.

While five men were convicted in relation to the killings, Mr Fox's lawyers claim some of those convictions have been rendered unsafe by the recent revelation that police at the time wrongly identified the murder weapon.

The misidentification of the Czech-manufactured rifle was disclosed last year during the inquest of another victim of the same mid-Ulster UVF gang - pensioner Roseann Mallon, who was shot dead as she watched television at a house near Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in May 1994.

Mr Fox said an HET summary report given to him in 2012 relied on the wrong weapon ID.

He said the HET subsequently apologised and pledged to continue its investigations and compile a new summary report - a document he says he has yet to receive.

An inquest was never held into the deaths as it was contended the facts surrounding the case had been examined during the criminal proceedings.

But given the error relating to the weapon, Mr Fox's legal team insist the original rationale for not holding an inquest has been fatally undermined.

In a separate development, the family has written to Attorney General John Larkin QC asking him to open an inquest.

Mr and Mrs Fox, aged 65 and 53 respectively, were not involved in paramilitary activity but a week before their deaths their son Patrick had been jailed for being in possession of an IRA bomb. In the wake of the murders, Patrick Fox alleged that the security forces had threatened to set him and his family up to be killed.

Anthony Fox said the family believed collusion had been at play in the murders.

"The UVF admitted responsibility for the attack," he said in a statement lodged with the judicial review challenge.

"However, I and my five siblings have always maintained that British state forces colluded in our parents' killings."

The story so far...

The HET is being wound up by the end of the year and its work is being taken on by a new, and much smaller, legacy unit within the PSNI, while the Ombudsman has dramatically reduced the number of investigators working on historic cases - a move that is set to delay probes by years. Under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the state has an obligation to investigate deaths. In his application, Mr Fox expressed concern about the security of files being transferred from the HET to the new PSNI legacy unit.

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