Raymond McCord lawyers reject PPS offer

Raymond McCord
Raymond McCord

The father of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim is to pursue legal action over the decision not to bring charges against former police officers implicated in the killing.

Raymond McCord’s lawyers are pressing ahead with a High Court challenge after rejecting a PPS offer to have a senior barrister carry out a further evaluation.

A judge has listed his case for a hearing in November.

Mr McCord’s 22-year-old son, Raymond McCord Jnr, was beaten to death in November 1997.

The killing was at the centre of a report by former police ombusdman Nuala O’Loan which found collusion between a UVF gang and their Special Branch handlers.

Earlier this year loyalist supergrass Gary Haggarty was jailed after confessing to hundreds of paramilitary offences. His catalogue of crime included five murders - but not that of Mr McCord Jnr.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty as part of a deal that offered a reduced sentence in return for providing evidence on other terror suspects.

His prison term was slashed from 35 years to six-and-a-half years due to the assistance provided to police.

Haggarty implicated 16 people in crime, but only one man currently faces prosecution for murder.

Former director of public prosecutions Barra McGrory announced last year that his claims alone were insufficient to prove allegations made against the other suspects.

Mr McCord then issued judicial review proceedings against the PPS for failing to review the decision not to bring charges against former police officers implicated in the alleged failure to prevent his son’s murder.

His lawyers claimed the position was unlawful and “deprecated” the weight which could be given to Haggarty’s evidence.

A potential resolution to the litigation emerged in April when the PPS confirmed that a review of the decision not to prosecute the former police officers was to be carried out.

But Mr McCord’s legal team rejected the move, claiming the same senior counsel who advised on decisions not to prosecute in another Haggarty-related case would be involved in the review.

His solicitor, Ciaran O’Hare of McIvor Farrell said “the review that has been offered by the PPS falls manifestly short of the key principles of transparency, freshness and independence from the original decision maker.

“In the absence of fresh material, it would be very difficult to see why the same senior counsel would give different advices to those already given and relied upon before.”