Northern Ireland

Relative can challenge public body's refusal to investigate suspected involvement of police agents in mobile shop killings

Brian Frizzell was shot dead in a mobile shop in 1991
Brian Frizzell was shot dead in a mobile shop in 1991

THE brother of a Catholic man murdered along with two teenage girls by loyalists more than 30 years ago has secured High Court permission to challenge a public body's refusal to investigate the suspected involvement of police agents.

Patrick Frizzell was granted leave to seek a judicial review after the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland decided it has no jurisdiction to examine the atrocity.

His 29-year-old brother, Brian Frizzell, was killed in a notorious UVF attack on a mobile shop in the Drumbeg estate, Craigavon, in March 1991.

The gunman also shot dead two girls working behind the counter - Eileen Duffy (19) and 16-year-old Katrina Rennie.

Based on Police Ombudsman reports into separate terrorist atrocities, Mr Frizzell believes that RUC informants played a role in the murders.

He contends that police failed in their obligation to protect his brother, and that the Health and Safety Executive is required to investigate that failure.

In February this year the body stated that it has no statutory authority to carry out such a probe because the killing falls outside the scope of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

Counsel for Mr Frizzell claimed that decision was unlawful because police were not excluded from a duty set out in the legislation.

Dessie Hutton KC told the court: "He has a suspicion that the security forces were harbouring individuals who had a connection to the atrocity.

"Brian Frizzell was some to be protected by this duty, that duty was breached and that should be investigated."

Tony McGleenan KC, for the respondent, argued that the case was based on an abstract legal point.

"It requires some sort of factual foundation to support the contention that there is a purpose and reason to investigate whether or not the chief constable was operating agents in an unsafe manner."

But Mr Justice Humphreys ruled that the challenge should proceed to a full hearing next year.

Granting leave to seek a judicial review, he said: "There is an arguable case that the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland was wrong in law in interpreting (the Order) in such a way that the RUC in 1991 did not fall within its remit."

Outside court Mr Frizzell's solicitor described the ruling as being part of wider legal attempts to expose alleged collusion with the UVF in Mid Ulster.

Gary Duffy of KRW Law said: It is an important step in our client's fight for a proper investigation into the state's complicity in the killing of his brother by loyalist paramilitaries."