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PSNI fails to meet handover deadline for Stalker report

The Chief Constable has failed to meet a deadline set by Northern Ireland’s senior coroner for the handing over of a top-secret report into six alleged shoot-to-kill deaths.

A copy of the controversial Stalker-Sampson report into the deaths of six men in the Co Armagh area almost 30 years ago should have been handed over yesterday.

However, the PSNI failed to meet the deadline imposed by John Leckey in September.

A spokesperson for the Coroners Service confirmed yesterday that the report was still outstanding.

The PSNI was contacted but did not respond.

The shoot-to-kill allegations refer to three separate cases in late 1982: the killing of IRA men Gervaise McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns in Lurgan on November 11; the shooting of teenager Michael Tighe near Craigavon on November 24; and the deaths of INLA suspects Seamus Grew and Roddy Carroll near Armagh on December 12.

The controversy surrounding the six killings led to a probe by John Stalker, the deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police.

He was later removed from the investigation and the inquiry was concluded by Colin Sampson. However, the findings have never been made public.

Seven weeks ago Mr Leckey ordered Matt Baggott to provide a copy by November 9.

The senior coroner issued the deadline after long-standing refusal of the police to disclose its contents.

Fifteen years ago he abandoned an inquest after police refused to hand it over. While Mr Leckey has been given sight of the report, he has ordered that it is made available to the court so an inquest can finally get under way.

Last Thursday Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris told a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board that the PSNI would hand over Stalker-Sampson.

“Of course we will comply with the coroner's direction but there are specific issues that we wish to address in respect of disclosure and the information that is being sought,” he said.

“That is ongoing work and I think we will have some clarity around this on November 9 but certainly we will comply with the coroner's direction and our responsibility to the coroner's court in respect of this inquest,” Mr Harris added.

Mark Thompson — the director of the group Relatives for Justice — said it was unacceptable for evidence to be withheld in this way.

“This is supposed to be a new beginning for the police service, and that can be best demonstrated by co-operating with the courts and providing the material,” he said.

The next preliminary hearing in the long-running shoot-to-kill case is scheduled to be heard on November 23.

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