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Blame RIRA for your wife’s death

The husband of one of the Omagh bomb victims was told today that the Real IRA - and not the police or Secretary of State - was to blame for his wife’s death.

Laurence Rush had brought a case against the Chief Constable and Northern Ireland Secretary over alleged failures in the apprehension, detection and pre-emptive arrest of the men behind the 1998 atrocity.

His wife Elizabeth (57) was one of the 29 people murdered in the Real IRA attack. She had been serving customers her pine and canework shop when the car bomb ripped through the town on August 15, 1998.

This morning a High Court judge ruled Mr Rush's case “did not enjoy the potential prospect of success”.

The widower, who also claimed for loss and damages, alleged police failed to act upon information received on the bomb plot and had failed to give adequate warnings and implement sufficient evacuation procedures.

The defendants sought to have Mr Rush’s claim struck out on the basis that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action or was frivolous or vexatious.

Granting their application, Master Bell, sitting in the High Court, ruled the claim was “obviously unsustainable”.

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“Those who committed the civil wrong against Mr Rush, as a result of which he tragically lost his wife, were the members of the Real IRA who organised and carried out the Omagh bombing,” he said.

“It was not the police or the Secretary of State.”

Mr Rush now has the option of mounting an appeal against the judgment.

He brought his action separately from the landmark compensation claim by the families of other victims.

In that case the High Court held four men — Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Seamus Daly and Colm Murphy — liable for the massacre and ordered more than £1.6million in damages be paid out to 12 relatives.

Master Bell had reviewed the case law setting out the duty of care owed by the police in investigating, controlling and preventing crime.

The principle established by the leading cases is that, in general, a duty of care is not imposed upon police officers in respect of their activities when investigating suspected crimes.

During arguments against striking the case out, counsel for Mr Rush identified a number of factors which he considered led to the case being exceptional. He claimed the bombing was a unique and distinct crime; the police had information about the threat but failed to act upon it; and the police had sufficient experience with bomb attacks to either have taken action to prevent the bomb reaching Omagh or to have evacuated the area.

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