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Raymond McCord's Brexit legal challenge dismissed by Belfast High Court judge

By David Young

A legal challenge in Belfast High Court that argued the Government's Brexit strategy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process has been dismissed.

Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey delivered his ruling on Thursday morning on three joined cases against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's handling of the UK's European Union exit.

The trio of challenges contended that a no-deal Brexit on October 31 would undermine agreements involving the UK and Irish governments that were struck during the peace process and which underpin cross-border co-operation between the two nations.

The Government rejected that contention during two days of legal proceedings in the High Court.

One of the applicants was high-profile victims' campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997.

In his written judgment, the judge said: "I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute.

"Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national.

"Within the world of politics the well-recognised phenomena of claim and counterclaim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow, alteration and modification of government policy, public statements, unpublished deliberations, posturing, strategy and tactics are the very essence of what is both countenanced and permitted in a democratic society."

Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey said he considered the action was "doomed to failure".

The Court of Appeal will hear any appeal on Friday.

Judges have set aside time, and indicated a willingness to sit over the weekend, to fast-track the hearing of any appeal.

That could potentially pave the way for the Northern Ireland challenge to be heard in the Supreme Court alongside Scottish and English cases next Tuesday.

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