Ex-RUC man wins inquest anonymity bid

Published Tuesday, 18 September 2012
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A retired RUC sergeant who fired the shots that killed an unarmed IRA man 20 years ago won his High Court bid on Tuesday to have his identity kept secret at the inquest.

Ex-RUC man wins inquest anonymity bid
Mr Jordan, 23, was shot dead by the RUC in 1992. (© Pacemaker)

Pearse Jordan, 23, was shot dead by the RUC in disputed circumstances on the Falls Road, west Belfast in November 1992.

The ex-officer, known only as Mr A, had been refused anonymity and screening at the forthcoming hearing into the death of Mr Jordan.

But a judge quashed the decision of the coroner because naming him would put his life under greater threat from dissident republicans.

Even though the former policeman now lives outside the United Kingdom, Mr Justice Deeny held that the loss of anonymity would increase the risk.

He said: "The fact of the matter is that there are terrorists still operating in Northern Ireland.

"We are not yet in a purely historical phase looking back on a troubled episode in our history which has ended."

The judge also ruled in favour of anonymity and screening for three more officers expected to give evidence at the inquest.

His decision followed a previous verdict which overturned the refusal to protect the identities of other witnesses.

A separate legal bid by the Jordan family to judicially review the granting of anonymity to six further serving and retired officers was rejected.

An examination into the circumstances surrounding his death, one of a series of alleged shoot-to-kill incidents, is due to get underway next week.

Mr A, who fired the fatal shots, was involved in a specialist anti-terrorist unit.

He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and commended three times during 28 years of service.

Now aged 61, he has been retired for more than a decade and was said to have failed to co-operate with the coroner.

Mr Justice Deeny acknowledged the arguments in favour of the next of kin and the general public seeing him and knowing who he is.

The judge accepted the risk to him, based on a Security Service assessment, is less than the other officers, partly because he lives outside the UK.

But he held that the threat to Mr A was not non-existent, adding that his children still live in Northern Ireland.

The judge also acknowledged anonymity is more widespread in civil claims and reporting of cases than it once was.

Quashing the coroner's decisions, he added: "Whether or not we have a 'rights based jurisprudence' is not for me to say, but it cannot be denied that privacy and therefore anonymity have received more protection from the courts than in the past.

"What are rights for the public are rights for the police."

© UTV News
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2 Comments
bob in lisburn wrote (773 days ago):
proper order "What are rights for the public are rights for the police."
Realist in England wrote (774 days ago):
"...The judge accepted the risk to him, based on a Security Service assessment, is less than the other officers, partly because he lives outside the UK." So, the judge thinks the guy would be safer in Dundalk or Letterkenny than some obscure Scottish island then..? That is an interesting, if completely idiotic, assumption.
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