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Legal bid to have RUC ‘shoot-to-kill’ papers released

Judgment has been reserved in a legal challenge to the disclosure of reports into alleged shoot-to-kill cases in Northern Ireland.

The Chief Constable is seeking to judicially review senior coroner John Leckey's direction for the handing over of edited versions of the probes into controversial RUC shootings 28 years ago.

Police insist the reports should not be disclosed, and then forwarded to next of kin, without the coroner first ruling on the relevance of the papers.

Lawyers for the Chief Constable want Mr Leckey's determination quashed, arguing that it would impede applications for any Public Interest Immunity certificates.

The case involves six people, including IRA men, INLA suspects and a Catholic teenager shot dead around Lurgan and Armagh in 1982. A probe into whether police planned to kill them was carried out by former Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable John Stalker and Colin Sampson of West Yorkshire Police.

The reports have never been made public.

With police emphasising the volume of material and complex issues, deadlines set for handing over material were missed.

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Gerry Simpson QC, for the Chief Constable, told the High Court the case involves “legacy inquests”.

He said: “The result of that is there are always going to be considerations of Public Interest Immunity in the course of these inquests.”

Mr Simpson argued that all documents should be supplied to the Coroner.

The deaths at the centre of the legal fight include three IRA men Eugene Toman, Sean Burns and Gervaise McKerr near Lurgan.

Mr Leckey also plans to hold inquests into the deaths of Catholic teenager Michael Tighe, shot dead by police at a hay shed near Craigavon in November 1982, and suspected INLA men Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew, killed near Armagh a month later.

The Government has denied any shoot-to-kill policy existed.

Mr Leckey is also to re-examine the deaths of RUC officers John Quinn, Allan McCloy and Paul Hamilton in October 1982 when a bomb buried in a roadside culvert near Lurgan exploded as they passed in an armoured police car.

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