Belfast Telegraph

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord clears first step in securing inquest into UVF murder of his son

Court challenge: Raymond McCord
Court challenge: Raymond McCord

By Alan Erwin

A victims campaigner has cleared the first stage in his High Court fight to secure an inquest into the loyalist murder of his son more than 21 years ago.

Raymond McCord was formally granted leave to apply for a judicial review over claims the ongoing delay breaches human rights, his lawyers said.

The 65-year-old Belfast man described it as a groundbreaking development which offers new hope to him and others bereaved during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He said: "We victims stand together irrespective of religion or politics."

Raymond McCord Jnr, 22, was beaten to death before his body was dumped at a quarry outside north Belfast in November 1997.

The killing was carried out by an Ulster Volunteer Force gang based in the Mount Vernon area of the city.

Despite a series of preliminary hearings, an inquest has yet to get underway.

Delays have been linked to investigations into paramilitary crime attributed to the UVF unit who operated in the Mount Vernon estate.

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Raymond McCord Jnr was murdered by the UVF in 1997.

In 2007 a major Police Ombudsman investigation established Special Branch officers colluded with the gang behind Mr McCord Jr's murder and a series of other killings.

Lawyers for the victim's father have issued judicial review proceedings against the PSNI, the Coroner's Service and the Department of Justice.

They are seeking a declaration that his human rights have been breached.

Mr McCord's solicitor, Ciaran O'Hare of McIvor Farrell, confirmed that leave to seek a judicial review was granted in court today.

A full hearing has been listed for June.

"This case is the first of its kind, and it will have systemic ramifications for other similar legacy cases," Mr O'Hare said.

Mr McCord added: "No family should have to endure such a delay on the murder of a loved one.

"Delay after delay, adjournment after adjournment which only benefits the state in ensuring that truth and justice is hidden as a result of the collusion in my son's murder.

"A court will now have to litigate this for the first time in an open forum. It's been a long time coming but I'm nearly there."

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