CHIEF Constable Sir Hugh Orde will this morning launch a legal challenge to try TO block Coroner John Leckey from gaining access to the police investigation into the shooting of an unarmed IRA man.
Pearse Jordan (21) was shot dead by an undercover RUC unit as he drove a stolen car along the Falls Road in west Belfast in November 1992.
Over the last 16 years Mr Jordan’s parents have fought a legal battle to gain access to the police files surrounding their son’s killing.
In 2007 a House of Lords ruling ordered the PSNI to provide Northern Ireland coroners with all relevant police files relating to controversial killings.
As a result Mr John Leckey re-opened the Jordan inquest after an 11-year adjournment.
Last month Mr Leckey ordered the chief constable to hand over the senior investigating officer’s report into the Jordan murder by 4.30pm on July 4.
However Sir Hugh refused to hand over the police investigation report, claiming he was not legally obliged to disclose the murder files to the coroner.
“The investigating police officer’s report, insofar as it consists of matters of opinion, comment, assessment, conclusions and recommendations, does not constitute ‘information’,” a PSNI solicitor said in a legal challenge opposing the handing over of police files.
Resisting the coroner’s request, the solicitor said that “this is a routine document prepared in every case where a crime file is opened and later submitted to the Public Prosecution Service”.
“It contains no primary evidence at all and is a summary of the various witness statements, which were taken at the time, together with a commentary by the investigating officer stating his conclusions and recommendations,” the solicitor said.
However, the Jordan family’s solicitor, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, insists that the PSNI is legally obliged to hand over the files.
“The investigating officer will be giving evidence to this inquest and he bears ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the RUC investigation, which was strongly criticised by the European Court of Human Rights in 2001 for its lack of independence,” he said
“It purports to be an analysis of the evidence and is the cornerstone upon which a decision was taken by the DPP not to prosecute Sergeant A for murdering Pearse Jordan”.
“The information contained in this report and the process whereby that decision was arrived at could not be more relevant.”