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Case involving former IRA prisoner to be held in private due to ‘national security'

In 1994 Paddy Murray, from Antrim, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for possession of explosives. He was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement 
Staff Reporter

LEGAL action against the PSNI over the alleged planting of firebomb evidence by a suspected dissident republican informer is set to be heard in private.

A High Court judge made a declaration sought by the Chief Constable that clears the way for closed proceedings in a case involving former IRA prisoner Paddy Murray.

Mr Justice Stephens held the move was necessary for the effective administration of justice and due to issues of national security.

Murray (54) features prominently in lawsuits by a man and woman whose prosecution for possession of explosives collapsed in 2008.

The pair were arrested with four others during a police raid on a house in Ballymena, Co Antrim in February 2005.

DVD cases containing incendiary material were recovered from the property.

Murray allegedly provided the cases to one of the plaintiffs, telling him they contained counterfeit DVDs, the court heard.

They also claim he was a police agent and deliberately planted the devices so they could be discovered.

A criminal trial of the pair and their co-accused ended when the prosecution offered no evidence.

The two plaintiffs are now suing the PSNI, alleging malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, unlawful arrest, negligence and breaches of their human rights.

The defendant denies liability, stating that Murray did not supply the devices as part of a police operation.

His alleged status as a police informant was neither confirmed nor denied, the court heard.

In 1994 Murray, from Antrim, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for possession of explosives. He was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Lawyers for the Chief Constable applied for closed material proceedings in the action under powers within the Justice and Security Act 2013.

The so-called secret courts involve sensitive intelligence documents being assessed by a judge and a special advocate barrister appointed to protect the rights of plaintiffs shut out from the hearing.

Counsel for the man and woman seeking damages opposed the move, arguing that widespread speculation about Murray's status is already in the public domain.

Any information about him could no longer cause harm to national security, it was contended.

Three press articles were advanced to support that position.

In one Murray denied being an "MI5 tout", while his wife gave an interview to another newspaper rubbishing claims that he is a high-level Special Branch informant.

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