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Raymond McCord wants counsel from outside Northern Ireland to review son's murder

Raymond McCord. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press.

A REVIEW of the decision not to bring criminal charges against former police officers implicated in a loyalist paramilitary killing must be carried out by a senior barrister from outside Northern Ireland, the victim's father demanded today.

Raymond McCord insisted he would have no confidence in the process being undertaken by a representative from within the jurisdiction.

The Belfast man is taking High Court action against the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for failing to charge ex-Special Branch officers allegedly connected to the failure to prevent his son's murder.

Raymond McCord Jnr (22) was beaten to death before his body was dumped in a quarry on the northern outskirts of the city in November 1997.

The killing was at the centre of an explosive report by former Police Ombusdman Nuala O'Loan which found collusion between a north Belfast UVF gang and their Special Branch handlers.

Earlier this year Gary Haggarty, a former commander of the terror unit-turned supergrass, was jailed after confessing to hundreds of paramilitary offences.

His catalogue of crime extended over 16 years, from 1991 to 2007, and included five murders - but not that of Mr McCord Jnr.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty as part of a controversial state deal that offered a reduced sentence in return for providing evidence on other terror suspects.

His prison term was slashed from 35 years to six-and-a-half years due to the assistance provided to police.

Due to time served on remand Haggarty has since been released from prison and put into witness protection. Under the terms of the agreement he supplied information on scores of loyalist killings and attempted murders.

Despite Haggarty implicating 16 people in serious crime, only one man currently faces prosecution for murder using his evidence.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory announced last year that his claims alone were insufficient to prove allegations made against the other suspects.

Mr McCord then issued judicial review proceedings against the PPS for failing to review the decision not to bring charges against former police officers implicated in the alleged failure to prevent his son's murder.

His lawyers claimed the position was unlawful, unfair and "deprecated" the weight which could be given to Haggarty's evidence and his general credibility.

Last month counsel for the PPS confirmed that a review of the decision not to prosecute the former police officers will now be carried out.

But after the case was mentioned again today Mr McCord was adamant that completely independent counsel must be involved - similar to a process undertaken over the 2005 murder of Catholic schoolboy Thomas Devlin in north Belfast.

"It has to be carried out by a senior counsel from outside this jurisdiction," he said.

"I won't accept anything else, and if that's not the case the fight will go on."

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