Northern Ireland news

Former RUC officers secure date for legal challenges to reports by NI's Police Ombudsman

A judge listed the judicial review applications for hearing at the High Court in October

FORMER RUC officers have secured a date for legal challenges to reports by Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman.

A judge listed their judicial review applications for hearing at the High Court in October.

One of the cases relates to findings reached in the watchdog's probe into a series of loyalist paramilitary murders in south Belfast between 1990 and 1998.

Earlier this year Ombudsman Marie Anderson found evidence of "collusive behaviour" by police in the attacks, which included the February 1992 massacre at the Sean Graham betting shop on the Ormeau Road where UDA gunmen shot dead five Catholic victims.

Legal action is also being taken over the report into the police handling of loyalist killings in the north west from 1989 to 1993.

A third challenge relates to findings in the case of four men wrongly accused of murdering a British soldier in Derry.

Known as the Derry Four, the Ombudsman concluded RUC officers had unfairly obtained confessions from them for the killing of Lt Stephen Kirby in 1979.

The four men fled Northern Ireland until their acquittal in 1998.

Backed by federation representatives, former RUC officers claim the Ombudsman has made findings without proper due process and are seeking to have relevant parts of public statements declared unlawful.

Senior counsel representing the officers, David McMillen QC, told the court: "We consider they should be heard together because they deal with

the same issues".

With the Ombudsman intent on robustly defending the challenges, Mr Justice Colton set aside three days to deal with full arguments in the cases.

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Northern Ireland news