CHIEF Constable Sir Hugh Orde yesterday lost a legal attempt to stop inquiry files on the police shooting of an unarmed IRA man being disclosed to a senior coroner.
He had been resisting an order to hand over the investigating officer’s report into the death of Pearse Jordan in Belfast nearly 16 years ago.
But his application for leave to seek a judicial review of coroner John Leckey’s attempts to gain access to the documents ahead of a long delayed inquest next January was dismissed at the High Court.
Mr Justice Morgan ruled that no arguable case with a prospect of success had been put forward, despite lawyers for the chief constable insisting the files were based on an individual officer’s subjective analysis.
“Although each document contains matters of opinion, comment, assessment, conclusion and recommendations, it is clear that the detailed analysis of the relevant material is likely to be extremely helpful to the coroner in defining the issues which he can expect to emerge in the hearing of the inquest,” the judge said.
“There is no basis for limiting the information to which the coroner is entitled by reference to whether it is factual, opinion or assessment.”
Jordan (21) was shot dead by police on west Belfast’s Falls Road in November 1992.
Since then his family have battled to gain access to the relevant police documents and last year the House of Lords ordered police to provide the coroner with all relevant files.
Following an adjournment of several years the inquest was reopened and a request made for the investigation files to be handed over.
Sir Hugh has resisted, however, claiming he was not obliged to comply with the order.
He now has seven days to decide whether to challenge the judgment in the Court of Appeal.
Following the ruling Jordan’s parents, Hugh and Teresa, described it as a major step forward.
“They are trying everything they can to stop anything reflecting badly on the police and what went on before in the RUC,” Mr Jordan said.
“But after 16 years I would like the truth to come out. I don’t think its fair for any family to have to go through court after court.
“It’s about time they owned up to the truth and some conclusion was reached. There’s supposed to be a new peace so, for the next generation it would be good to get out what actually happened.”
The family’s lawyer, Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, claimed it was a case the chief constable had little chance of winning.
“There’s no more relevant document before this inquest than the investigating officer’s report,” he said.
“The chief constable’s application had no reasonable prospect of success because of the clear authority on this very point from the House of Lords.”