High court judgment a 'breakthrough' on collusion
A High Court order for police to disclose files held on a loyalist informer represents a major breakthrough in two actions over alleged state collusion with paramilitary killers, lawyers have claimed.
The Chief Constable has been set a final autumn deadline to produce all relevant documents in a claim brought by John Flynn, a north Belfast man who survived two UVF attempts on his life.
It has emerged that the cut-off also applies in separate proceedings brought by Michael Monaghan, a son-in-law of murder victim Sean McParland.
Mr McParland, 55, was shot by a loyalist gang while babysitting Mr Monaghan's four children at Skegoneill Avenue in Belfast in February 1994.
Both Mr Flynn and Mr Monaghan are suing the PSNI for alleged negligence and misfeasance in public office over the suspected involvement of an agent in the terrorist attacks.
On Friday a judge warned he will strike out the police defence to the claims - the first of their kind - unless there is full disclosure by October 1.
Solicitor Claire McKeegan of KRW Law, who acts for both plaintiffs, described the order as "hugely significant" for all litigation in this area.
Ms McKeegan added:"We intend to press forward to trial on receipt of long awaited disclosure in these important cases.
"These will be the first state collusion cases to be adjudicated on in the High Court in Northern Ireland."
The actions centre on alleged police collusion with a loyalist agent suspected of up to 15 murders.
Mr Flynn, 57, is suing over murder bids allegedly carried out by an agent who operated in the city's Mount Vernon area.
In 1992 a gunman tried to shoot him after he was lured to Whiteabbey Hospital on the outskirts of the city.
Five years later a second attempt was made to kill him in a failed car bomb attack.
In 2014 the PSNI admitted his misfeasance claim and accepted he should be paid damages.
But the force emphatically denies negligence or having ever employed the covert human intelligence source - identified only in the case as 'Informant 1'.
The agent is suspected of being linked to 10-15 murders, punishment shootings, serious beatings, conspiracy to murder, robbery, hijackings and drug dealing.
Mr Flynn's action was triggered by the findings of Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan that some Special Branch officers colluded with loyalist killers.
Her Operation Ballast report, issued back in 2007, centred on the activities of a UVF gang allegedly led by Mount Vernon man Mark Haddock.
As part of the lawsuit Mr Flynn's lawyers are continuing to seek access to PSNI documents.