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Arlene Foster: Legal ruling a stinging rebuke for embattled DUP leader

Arlene Foster

EMBATTLED DUP leader Arlene Foster yesterday suffered a stinging rebuke as a High Court judge ruled that she had unlawfully blocked a funding plan for legacy inquests.

Sir Paul Girvan's damning ruling is the latest setback for the former first minister, whose role in collapsing the Stormont talks last month has since faced intense scrutiny.

On a day when the DUP was expected to be celebrating the drawing down more than £400m secured as part of last June's confidence and supply deal with the Tories, the ruling put Mrs Foster under fresh pressure.

Ruling on a legal challenge brought by Brigid Hughes, the widow of Anthony Hughes an innocent civilian shot dead in 1987 along with eight IRA men at Loughgall in Co Armagh, the judge said the DUP leader was wrong to think she could delay the decision on inquest funds until after political agreement on dealing with the past.

The judge said the obligation on the state to investigate deaths during the conflict remained whether or not devolved government was restored.

The legal challenge was brought against the Secretary of State, the Stormont Executive and Mrs Foster personally, due to her alleged responsibility for the logjam.

More than 50 legacy inquests remain outstanding, with potentially 72 more cases on the attorney general's desk for consideration.

Mrs Hughes said she was pleased with the outcome of the hearing but said it had "taken a very long time."

Meanwhile a DUP spokesman said the party noted the court judgment and would "study it carefully."

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