A preliminary hearing in advance of a new inquest into one of the most controversial SAS shootings of the Troubles will be held in Belfast this week.

The hearing on Wednesday into the 1984 killing of IRA men Danny Doherty and Willie Fleming is of major legal significance.

It comes after Northern Ireland coroner John Lecky’s suspension of the inquest was overruled by the High Court.

The new inquest, along with 13 others, was ordered by Northern Ireland attorney-general John Larkin QC.

However, in November last year, Mr Lecky suspended the inquests on national security grounds.

His decision was challenged in the High Court by Mr Doherty’s widow, Julie Doherty, and quashed by Mr Justice Treacy.

This week’s preliminary hearing at Mays Chambers in Belfast is the first of 14 new investigations to go ahead.

The two Derry men were killed by the SAS in the grounds of Gransha hospital in December 1984. It was believed the SAS established an ambush expecting an IRA attack.

Mrs Doherty’s lawyer, Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane, said the new inquests were ordered because the RUC withheld documents from the coroner when the original inquests were held in 1986.

“The RUC showed a blatant disregard for its statutory obligations in terms of the documents it should have provided to the coroner for the original inquests. This formed the basis of the applications to the attorney general to order new inquests,” he said.

The killings provoked huge anger amid claims both men were deliberately shot dead rather than being arrested.

Fine Gael minister for foreign affairs Peter Barry claimed no attempt was made to arrest the men.

The deaths also led to even more bitter divisions between Derry’s nationalist and unionist communities.

At the time the DUP’s Gregory Campbell said he was delighted that they had been intercepted and “executed”.