Northern Ireland

Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson inquest: PSNI disclosure delays force further postponement

Inquest opened in 1995

Family hand out picture of Liam Paul Thompson as an inquest take place into his death in 1994.
Paul 'Topper' Thompson was shot dead in 1994.

Fresh concerns have been raised after the resumption of an inquest into the murder of a Catholic man was postponed because of PSNI delays in producing vital information.

The inquest into the murder of Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson was due to resume in Banbridge on Monday.

However, PSNI delays in providing material to the inquest meant the restart could not go ahead.

An inquest opened in 1995 and was adjourned until last April when the first evidence was heard.

Under the British government’s controversial Legacy Act inquests that are not at their findings stage by May 1 will be halted.

Earlier this week a High Court judge ruled that plans to provide conditional immunity under the legislation are unlawful.

A Public Interest Immunity (PII) hearing linked to the case, which will be closed to the public, press, and Mr Thompson’s legal team, is due to be heard next week.

PII certificates are used by state agencies to withhold information they do not want the public to see.

Mr Thompson was shot dead by the UDA at Springfield Park in west Belfast in April 1994.

He was gunned down after UDA members cut a hole in a peace line fence close to a British army base to enter a nationalist area.

Hours earlier a neighbour reported a hole in the peaceline at Springfield Park to the RUC and Northern Ireland Office.

However, authorities failed to act.

It was later claimed that a number of cameras on the nearby Henry Taggart British army barracks were not working.

The gun used to kill him is believed to have been smuggled into the north by British intelligence in the late 1980s.

Eugene Thompson
Eugene Thompson

Mr Thompson’s brother, Eugene Thompson, his only surviving next of kin, is concerned authorities are trying to run down the clock.

“I don’t understand why all this information couldn’t have been provided at the one time,” he said.

“It is just delay after delay. I am concerned that the clock is being run down in my brother’s case and that I will never get a Coroner’s finding.

“They are dragging it out...but I will never give up.”

Gemma McKeown, a solicitor with the Committee on the Administration of Justice, which is representing Mr Thompson said: “This further delay is very concerning in light of the short timeframe in which this inquest has to complete.

“There is the pressing need for authorities to take all additional measures to expedite compliance with their duties including those to provide timely and adequate disclosure.”

The PSNI was contacted.