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Victims campaigner seeks judicial review of British government Brexit plans

Raymond McCord has launched legal action. Picture by Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk

A VICTIMS' campaigner has launched the first legal challenge in Northern Ireland to the UK leaving the European Union.

Raymond McCord lodged papers at the High Court in Belfast yesterday seeking a judicial review of the British Government's move towards Brexit following the June 23 referendum.

His lawyers claim it would be unlawful to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without Parliament voting on the move.

They also contend it would undermine the UK's domestic and international treaty obligations under the Good Friday Agreement, and inflict damage on the peace process.

Efforts are being made to secure an initial court hearing in Belfast next week.

Mr McCord's son Raymond Jr was murdered by the UVF in north Belfast in 1997. He is taking the case amid concerns that European peace money which goes towards victims of the Troubles may be discontinued.

His legal team claim they were not given assurances that Article 50, the mechanism under which the UK begins the formal process of leaving the EU, will not be invoked without first securing a Parliamentary mandate.

Any attempt to use Royal Prerogative powers instead cannot be justified, they contend.

Mr McCord's lawyer, Ciaran O'Hare of McIvor Farrell Solicitors, said his client fears Brexit could impact on his fundamental rights.

"As a victim of the most recent conflict in Northern Ireland, Mr McCord is very concerned about the profoundly damaging effect that a unilateral withdrawal of the UK from the EU will have upon the ongoing relative stability in Northern Ireland," he added.

"He is concerned that any withdrawal would be contrary to the UK's international law obligations pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement."

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