THE British government was found guilty yesterday of failing to properly investigate a so-called RUC ‘shoot-to-kill’ incident 20 years ago.

The finding in the Court of Appeal in Belfast related to the shooting of three IRA men – Gervaise McKerr, Sean Burns and Eugene Toman – in the Craigavon area on November 11 1982.

Three judges upheld an appeal by Gervaise McKerr’s son against Lord Justice Campbell’s decision that the government had not flouted a European Court judgement ordering an effective investigation into the shootings.

The judge had held that Jonathan McKerr was not entitled to a declaration as the case had been settled when the European Court awarded £10,000 as “just satisfaction for his feelings of frustration, distress and anxiety”.

Mr McKerr’s lawyers had argued that the killings had breached article two of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to life.

It was also submitted that the European Court had held that the trial of three RUC officers who were acquitted of murder had not met the aims of reassuring the public and the McKerr family as to the lawfulness of the killings.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell, delivering the court’s reserved judgement, said: “We consider that the

appellant’s claim is well founded…

and we propose to make a declaration that the government has failed to carry out an investigation which complies with article two but not to grant any other relief.”

A government lawyer applied for leave to appeal to the House of Lords and

Sir Robert said the court would give its decision later.

Outside the court solicitor Angela Ritchie, of Madden and Finucane, said: “This was a test case for all the victims of state violence who have been denied an article two compliant investigation.

“This is a matter of great regret to

all the families involved and today’s

decision vindicates their position

that the government has denied and

continues to deny them the effective investigations which would satisfy

their rights under the Human Rights Act.”