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Witnesses ‘were told to discredit detectives’

A new attempt has been made to undermine a major probe into a loyalist paramilitary gang by trying to discredit the team of detectives heading it up, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said witnesses were being told to make allegations which would damage the reputation of the Historic Enquiries Team.

A judge also heard claims that one suspected victim of a punishment shooting made a phone call to say the investigation unit had asked him to make things up.

The disclosure came as one of the men accused of the murder of Ulster Defence Association chief Tommy English was granted compassionate bail to attend his sister's wedding.

Jason Loughlin (34), of Ballyvessey Park, New Mossley, Co Antrim, is among 11 suspects charged in connection with the shooting.

English was gunned down at his home just outside north Belfast in October 2000 as part of a loyalist feud which claimed four lives in five days.

Mr Justice McLaughlin agreed to release Loughlin under tight conditions for a period on Saturday to give his younger sister away at her wedding.

He was ordered to have no contact with any Crown witnesses while out of custody.

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