5 April 2007 Edition
Shoot-to-kill: families win legal case
The families of shoot-to-kill victims have won a five-year legal battle to compel the PSNI Chief Constable to release documents to allow full inquests into the killings to take place.
The case was taken by Owen McCaughley, whose son Martin (23), was killed by undercover SAS soldiers in fields near Loughgall in 1990. Thirty-seven-year-old Dessie Grew also died during the covert operation.
The British House of Lords has ordered the disclosure of all RUC intelligence files in relation to the controversial killing of the two IRA Volunteers. Postmortem examinations established that Dessie Grew had been shot 48 times and Martin McCaughley 12 times. Despite overwhelming evidence of excessive force, in 1993 the DPP ruled that none of the British soldiers involved would face criminal charges. In 2005 the Court of Appeal upheld the Chief Constable’s decision to withhold information from the Coroner’s court.
Last week the British House of Lords judgement ruled that it would “plainly frustrate the public interest in a full and effective investigation if the police were legally entitled to withhold relevant and perhaps crucial information”.
Meanwhile the family of IRA Volunteer Pearse Jordon, shot dead by an undercover squad in West Belfast in 1992, is campaigning for changes to the Coroner’s Courts that would allow juries to return verdicts of either lawful or unlawful killings. Restrictions placed by the British government exclusively on Coroner’s courts in the north of Ireland mean that juries can only return ‘findings’.
The British House of Lord refused to fully endorse the Jordon family’s request but ruled that a jury hearing may make “relevant factual findings pertinent to the killing”.
Hugh Jordon, the victim’s father won a landmark case at the European Court of Human Rights in 2001 that ruled that the British government was in breach of the Convention by not carrying out effective investigations into Pearse’s death and the death of nine others.