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14 October 2004 Edition

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Ombudsman's findings fail family

The family of Catholic taxi driver Frank Hughes, shot dead by loyalists in 1990, are determined to pursue their quest for justice despite a ruling by the Policing Ombudsman that the killing was properly investigated at the time.

Nuala O'Loan reviewed RUC files relating to the killing following family concerns that the original investigation had been flawed. The family had raised concerns about the failure of the RUC to take proper scene of crime forensics and answer questions regarding the presence of RUC officers in a car outside the hotel where Hughes was last seen.

The County Tyrone taxi driver was last seen picking up a fare outside a hotel in Dungannon on 23 October 1990. His body was later discovered in his burnt-out cab around five miles away near a derelict farmhouse.

The killing was claimed by the Protestant Action Force (PAF), a cover name for the UVF. Billy Wright and Mark Fulton, later leaders in the breakaway LVF, were both implicated in the killing. Both men have been linked to a series of sectarian killings in the Mid-Ulster area; both are believed to have been Special Branch agents.

The Ombudsman said despite her finding she would be happy to consider any additional information the family has in relation to the killing.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said they would not be deterred. "They are disappointed but the family believes that there is further information which is vital to the Ombudsman. There are still issues for the Ombudsman to consider and the family hopes there may be progress soon," said O'Connor.

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