Judge delays ruling on Loughinisland massacre

Judge delays ruling on Loughinisland massacre

12 January 2018

A FINAL High Court ruling on the Police Ombudsman’s report into the Loughinisland massacre has been adjourned for a week.

Mr Justice McCloskey was due to decide today what should happen next after declaring the report “unlawful” and unfair in a judicial review judgement on December 21.

However, a last-minute adjournment application by lawyers for the Police Ombudsman came as they appointed a new senior counsel, Mr Barra McCrory QC, who is a former Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland.

At Friday’s hearing Mr Justice McCloskey said he had already given all parties concerned time to make written submissions and was surprised to have received a “rather casual” communication from the Ombudsman’s legal team the previous day indicating there was to be application.

Mr McGrory said no disrespect had been intended to the court.

After receiving details of this application in writing later on Friday morning, Mr Justice McCloskey told the court it was “to allow the legal representatives of the respondent, the Police Ombudsman, and interested parties some further time.”

He added: “I accede to that application.”

Lawyers have now been given until the end of next Wednesday to make any further legal submissions ahead of Mr Justice McCloskey’s ruling on Friday.

Speaking afterwards, the solicitor for the families, Niall Murphy, said the short time afforded would allow a “significant issue to be explored”.

“We welcome the opportunity to explore that significant issue,” he said.
Emma Rogan, daughter of Adrian Rogan who was murdered in the Loughinisland massacre, said: “We are frustrated but we welcome the opportunity to explore this development.”

At the judicial review judgment at Belfast’s High Court on December 21, Mr Justice McCloskey upheld a challenge brought by two retired policemen — Raymond White and Ronnie Hawthorne, a former police chief in the Downpatrick area.

Their lawyer, David McMillen QC, argued the Ombudsman had created an “ad hoc” investigative system, had failed to properly consult and protect officers it accused of criminality and collusion and had exceeded his statutory powers.

Dr Michael Maguire’s report into the UVF murder of Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (53), Barney Green (87), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Eamon Byrne (39) was published in June last year and found “collusion was a significant feature” of the 1994 attack.

In his findings, Mr Justice McCloskey found that Mr Hawthorne, who was the Downpatrick sub-divisional commander at the time of the murders, had been vindicated “unreservedly”.

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He also found that none of the police officers subjected to “destructive and withering condemnations” of colluding with UVF terrorists in The Heights Bar attack had the protection of due process.