Villiers ends legal battle over files

Published Friday, 13 September 2013
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Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has ended her legal action over the release of inquest documents.

Villiers ends legal battle over files
NI Secretary of State Theresa Villiers. (© Pacemaker)

A High Court judge agreed to dismiss proceedings centred on the disclosure of files relating to decades-old killings after being told a full review of the material has been carried out.

The case, which focused on who had legal authority for releasing the papers, was seen as a test of devolved powers.

Lawyers for the Secretary of State and Chief Constable Matt Baggott took action after Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin delivered inquest and court files to victims' group Relatives for Justice and KRW Law firm.

They wanted circulation blocked until the documents could be examined for any potential security risks.

The papers are connected to three deaths stretching back more than 40 years.

They include the British Army shooting of IRA man Paddy McAdorey in Belfast in 1971, the killing of student Michael Donnelly by a plastic bullet in 1980, and the loyalist murder of Sarah Larmour a year earlier.

Ms Ni Chuilin's department has responsibility for the Public Records Office where the papers are held. Concerns centred on the possible disclosure of any sensitive information on members of the security forces.

A temporary injunction was secured during an emergency late-night hearing in August - hours after the Minister made the handover.

KRW Law and Relatives for Justice then gave undertakings to take all immediate steps to request retrieval of the papers from victims' families.

As the case returned to court on Friday for an update Attorney General John Larkin QC appeared on behalf of the Minister.

It was due to proceed by way of a construction summons - a method of determining the law on who has responsibility for disclosing the documents. But Tony McGleenan QC, for the Secretary of State and Chief Constable, instead asked for the case to be dismissed.

He told Mr Justice Stephens his clients have now had time to look at the documents and no longer regarded the injunction as necessary.

Judgment was then entered for the defendants along with costs for all of them except the Minister, who made no application.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Eamo in Belfast wrote (459 days ago):
To Eastender. I am sure there are plenty of shoot to kill and collusion killings files that need releasing.
Lorna in Belfast wrote (462 days ago):
And when she was given the post Villiers was advertised as a legal expert.....
Eastender in Belfast wrote (462 days ago):
Since this is all fine and dandy, Is our 'Minister' planning on forwarding any information about other deaths? Any files to pass to other victim groups?
gearoid in belfast wrote (462 days ago):
Congratulations to Minister Ni Chuilin. She effectively swept aside the cloak of secrecy the NIO is desperate to keep over its murky dealings in this part of Ireland.
Chris in Banbridge wrote (462 days ago):
So what was all the delay about in releasing these documents in the first place. This proves the minister was right in releasing the documents. Shame on the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State for once again wasting tax payers money.
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