Northern Ireland

Concerns raised over PSNI disclosure delays before inquest due to start

Son calls for more resources to be allocated before May 1 inquest cut-off date

The funeral of Charlie and Tess Fox, murdered by the UVF, passes their Co Tyrone home.
The funeral of Charlie and Tess Fox, murdered by the UVF, passes their Co Tyrone home in 1992

The son of a couple killed by the UVF has revealed that the PSNI has not yet handed over any material linked to an inquest just weeks before it was expected due to begin.

Charlie Fox (63) and his wife Tess (53) were gunned down in their home, near Moy in Co Tyrone, in September 1992.

Eight months earlier their son-in-law Kevin McKearney (32) and his uncle Jack McKearney (70), died after a gun attack at a family-run butchers shop in Moy.

Kevin died instantly, while Jack died later in hospital.

Collusion is suspected in both cases.

The McKearney and Fox inquests have been linked but have both been stalled due to delays by agencies, including the PSNI, in handing over vital material.

The McKearney inquest, which opened last year, was due to recommence on February 19, followed by the Fox inquest.

Lawyers for both families have previously raised concerns about ongoing the disclosure delays.

During a review hearing last week, coroner Richard Greene confirmed that the McKearney inquest restart date will not now be met.

It is not known how that will impact the resumption of the Fox inquest.

Charlie and Tess Fox who were murdered in 1992.
Charlie and Tess Fox who were murdered in 1992.

Anthony Fox said there has been no disclosure of material from the PSNI about the murder of his parents.

It is understood that 22 files of non-sensitive material have been compiled but the PSNI has not yet handed them over.

Mr Fox said his family was concerned that the continued delays could result on the May 1 deadline for completion of the inquest being missed.

“They are running it to the wire, and they are going to run out of time,” he said.

Mr Fox said in addition to delays in handing over documentation, legal aid for several loyalists linked to the case is also being held up.

He urged authorities to allocate the necessary resources to legacy inquests given the looming deadline and suggested manpower could be diverted from cases that are not time sensitive.

“It can’t be that hard, it’s not as if there’s hundreds (of cases),” he said.

The campaigning son said his family is united in their frustration.

“There are six of us and we are all on the same page,” he said.

“It effects our Bernie twice as much.

“Can you imagine losing your husband and parents in the same year and now you might never see the inquests finished.”

Solicitor Peter Corrigan, of Phoenix Law, said that representations were made during review hearings into legacy inquests in 2016, over delays on the part of police and other agencies.

“We find ourselves seven years on still waiting on papers to be handed over,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “The police service remains committed to delivering all that we can for victims and their families.

“We are supporting the coroner’s service during this inquest and we will continue to do so.

“As this is the subject of ongoing inquest proceedings, it would be inappropriate for the police service to comment further at this time.”