Belfast Telegraph

Police report into murder Jean McConville will be disclosed after criminal proceedings, High Court hears

By Alan Erwin

A police report into the murder of Disappeared victim Jean McConville will be disclosed once criminal proceedings are completed, the High Court heard on Friday.

Six of Mrs McConville's children are mounting a legal bid to gain access to the findings of an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) probe into her abduction and killing by the IRA 45 years ago.

But a hearing due to get underway later this month has now been put on hold until the prosecution of a veteran republican facing charges linked to the murder is resolved.

Eighty-year-old Ivor Bell, of Ramoan Gardens in Belfast, denies two counts of soliciting the murder of the mother-of-ten.

His lawyers contend that he is unfit to stand trial due to a diagnosis of dementia, and that it would be oppressive to continue with the prosecution.

Amid uncertainty around those criminal proceedings, concerns were raised about the potential prejudicial impact of the McConville family's ongoing legal challenge.

Their mother was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in December 1972 after wrongly being accused of acting as an informer.

Following her abduction she was shot dead and then secretly buried.

She became know as one of the so-called Disappeared, with her body only discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

Thee years later the Police Ombudsman concluded that a proper investigation into the murder was not carried out for more than two decades.

Mrs McConville's children are seeking a judicial review aimed at forcing the PSNI to publish the contents of the report by the now defunct HET.

At previous hearings the court heard claims by the victim's son, James McConville, that police, in the guise of the HET, are continuing to fail the family.

Mr McConville, in an affidavit, stated: "Our lives have been devastated by the murder of our mother and the widespread failure of the authorities to investigate."

He added that provision of the report would help achieve a resolution and closure.

In court today it was confirmed that the Director of Public Prosecutions raised the issue of potential prejudice in an affidavit filed as part of the legal challenge.

Mrs Justice Keegan was told both the Director and the Chief Constable have made clear that once the criminal proceedings are completed they will have "no difficulty in releasing the report".

Counsel for the family, David Heraghty, agreed that their challenge should be adjourned until that stage.

Consenting to the case coming out of the list, the judge said: "The issues seem to be about the timing of release of the report, rather than anything to do with substance."

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