PSNI ordered by court to hand over documents

 John Flynn who survived two murder attempts by loyalists in the 1990s.
John Flynn who survived two murder attempts by loyalists in the 1990s.

POLICE have failed to disclose enough documents in a major legal action over alleged collusion with a loyalist paramilitary agent suspected of up to 15 murders, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Colton also rejected claims the PSNI should not have to hand over more files to a man who survived two UVF assassination bids because the process could take years and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

He ruled there was potentially further documentation in the possession of the PSNI that should be provided to John Flynn's legal representatives.

Mr Flynn, from north Belfast, is suing the police over two attempts on his life 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.

The 56-year-old issued proceedings against the PSNI for alleged negligence and misfeasance in public office.

It was confirmed last year that the PSNI has admitted his misfeasance claim and accepted he should be paid damages which could ultimately reach £75,000.

But the PSNI emphatically denies negligence or having ever employed the agent - identified only in the case as 'Informant 1'.

He is suspected of involvement in 10 to 15 murders, punishment shootings, serious beatings, conspiracy to murder, robbery, hijacking and drug dealing.

Mr Flynn's action was triggered by the findings of the then 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.

In court they argued that the police admission of partial liability was a tactical move to avoid handing over all files on the informant and cover over the full extent of alleged collusion.

Mr Flynn alleges misleading records were deliberately compiled, while other documents and forensic exhibits were either destroyed or lost.

Counsel for the Chief Constable argued that it was disproportionate and unnecessary to try to gain access to a "vast" amount of documentation when an admission of liability has been made.

But Mr Justice Colton said on Friday: "In a case such as this, given the grave allegations that have been made against the agents of the state, resource arguments are unattractive."

Outside court Mr Flynn's solicitor pledged to take steps to ensure full and urgent disclosure.

Claire McKeegan of KRW Law said: "The PSNI have tried at every turn to avoid disclosing any relevant material to allow us to resolve this case.

"This decision is important not only to the matter at hand but to all of our legacy litigation where the state representatives have cited resources as justification for non-compliance with the rules."

She added that she saw the "decision as a marker that this position will not be accepted".