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15 October 2009 Edition

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Coroner forced to stand down from Pearse Jordan inquest

SOUGHT CORONER’S REMOVAL: Hugh Jordan father of Pearse

SOUGHT CORONER’S REMOVAL: Hugh Jordan father of Pearse

THE most senior coroner in the Six Counties, John Leckey, is to withdraw from hearing the Pearse Jordan inquest.
Lawyers for Leckey revealed the coroner’s decision in the High Court in Belfast last week.
Leckey was in the High Court last week defending himself against allegations by the Jordan family that he was biased in his handling of the long-delayed inquest into the RUC shooting of Pearse Jordan in 1992.
Jordan, an IRA Volunteer, was shot dead by the RUC on the Falls Road in November 1992. The 23-year-old was unarmed when he was gunned down although the RUC initially issued statements claiming he was armed.
The inquest into the Jordan killing has been consistently delayed in the 17 years since his death.

ACCUSED OF BIAS
Earlier this year, Hugh Jordan, the dead Volunteer’s father, brought a case to the Belfast High Court where he accused Leckey of bias and sought his removal from the inquest into his son’s killing, which is due to sit in the near future, possibly January.
That judicial review was dismissed.
Last week, Hugh Jordan was appealing that dismissal when Leckey, in a decision that pre-empted the Appeal Court’s ruling, revealed that he would indeed withdraw from hearing the Jordan inquest.
The first day of the appeal heard that trust had broken down between the Jordan family and Leckey.
Barry McDonald QC, representing the Jordan family, told the Appeal Court:
“John Leckey appeared to disbelieve the family and suspected they might compromise the anonymity of inquest witnesses.”
The identity of the RUC man who shot Pearse Jordan dead has never been disclosed to the family and in any of the preliminary hearings held to date the killer has only been identified as ‘Sergeant A’.
The family maintain they have the right to know the identity of the man who killed Pearse.
The family’s barrister further claimed:
“At previous inconclusive hearings, the coroner predetermined the outcome of applications for the granting of anonymity and/or screening of witnesses.
“It seems the coroner actually disbelieves the representatives who act on behalf of the appellant and, in addition, seems to believe that if information had come into their possession it would have been used to undermine or compromise the anonymity of the police officers involved in this matter.”

APPEAL TO IRISH GOVERNMENT
IRA Volunteer Pearse Jordan was shot dead by undercover RUC members on the Falls Road in West Belfast in November 1992. The car he was driving was rammed by the RUC and as Pearse staggered away from the car, he was shot three times in the back.
In May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a landmark ruling which found that the British Government had violated human rights laws in the controversial killing of Pearse Jordan and that of several other nationalists and republicans.
In response to the European Court rulings, the British Government promised a package of measures aimed at satisfying the families of those killed. This package of measures was described as “wholly inadequate” by Sinn Féin’s Bairbre de Brún, and Pearse’s father, Hugh, has appealed to the Irish Government to reject the measures, demanding a new and independent investigation into his son’s murder.
In November 2002, Hugh Jordan said:
“For ten years we have been trying to get justice through the British courts system but we have been frustrated at every turn. This has done nothing to weaken our determination to see justice done, no matter how long it takes.”
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