Belfast Telegraph

Four police witnesses contest no anonymity ruling for IRA man's inquest

By Alan Erwin

Four police witnesses have launched a High Court challenge to being refused anonymity at the inquest into the shooting of an unarmed IRA man 20 years ago.

Lawyers for the officers are seeking to judicially review the decision taken by a coroner due to examine circumstances surrounding the death of Pearse Jordan.

Proceedings were adjourned after an undertaking was given to protect their identities at a preliminary hearing in Belfast yesterday.

Jordan (23) was shot dead by the RUC in west Belfast in 1992.

His death is one of a series of so-called shoot-to-kill incidents under investigation.

A judge was told yesterday that 13 police witnesses have sought to remain unnamed and to be screened before giving evidence at the inquest due, to begin in September.

Following risk assessments Belfast Coroner Brian Sherrard has so far decided to grant anonymity to six of them.

Four of the others, identified only as Officers C, D, H and R, had their requests denied.

Their application for interim relief to prevent being named at the preliminary hearing was not contested in court. But counsel for the coroner, Sean Doran, confirmed that objections would be raised later in the judicial review process.

Mr Doran also stressed the limited “shelf life” of the current risk assessments “What the coroner wants to seek to ensure is that the substantive hearing of the inquest takes place in September,” he added.

The judge, Mr Justice Gillen, also emphasised the need for the hearing to get under way.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is the date in September that must be preserved,” he said.

“The next-of-kin are entitled to have it heard and also these police officers are entitled to have it heard,” he added.

Adjourning the legal challenge to next month, he directed that any further applications should be lodged as soon as possible.

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