‘Informer’ action is rejected by court
A High Court judge yesterday threw out an action brought by a man who claims police tried to recruit him as an informer after he was detained 18 years ago.
Patrick Ferran was seeking damages over his arrest and subsequent questioning at the Castlereagh Holding Centre.
He claimed he was the subject of an unlawful detention and false imprisonment in March 1992.
Mr Justice Gillen rejected an appeal against a decision to strike out his action due to inordinate and inexcusable delays, and serious prejudice to the defendant if it was allowed to proceed.
The judge said: “I have no doubt that the circumstances of this case and, in particular, the length of the delay are sufficient to satisfy me that the recollection of witnesses on these important events will be grossly impaired by the passage of time and, taken in conjunction with the absence of others who can no longer be meaningfully available, will serve to give rise to a substantial risk that a fair trial of the issues in the litigation would not be possible...”
“In short, it would be unfair to have this case determined after all this time.”
Mr Ferran claimed he was unlawfully arrested at the Rock Bar in west Belfast and then illegally questioned at Castlereagh.
No details on the circumstances surrounding his detention were disclosed.
He alleged that police attempted to recruit him as an informer after his period of being held ought to have ended.
Lawyers for the Chief Constable issued a blanket denial to this claim.
His barrister accepted during the hearing that a solicitor originally instructed to bring the claim had been “insufficiently solicitous”.
Only two of 19 witnesses involved in the events remain serving police officers, the court was told. Neither of them could remember any briefings received in relation to Mr Ferran's arrest, although one did recall him getting off his chair from time to time and sitting in the corner of the interview room without speaking.