THE parents of an IRA man shot dead by police have launched a new legal bid to have the Coroner’s Office held liable for inquest delays.
Senior judges heard coronial decisions allegedly contributed to the hold-up in completing a tribunal into the death of Pearse Jordan nearly 26 years ago.
His parents, Teresa and Hugh Jordan, have already been awarded £7,500 in damages after the High Court declared the PSNI responsible for a delay of up to 11 years.
But they are now appealing its verdict that the Coroner’s Office was not to blame.
Pearse Jordan’s death was one of several high-profile cases in Northern Ireland involving allegations that the RUC were involved in shoot-to-kill incidents.
The 22-year-old had been driving a hijacked car stopped by police in west Belfast in November 1992.
He was shot after getting out on the Falls Road and trying to run away, unarmed.
In 2016 the third and most recent inquest into the shooting concluded that it was impossible to determine the precise circumstances.
That hearing took place after a judge quashed findings reached by the previous tribunal, sitting with a jury, in 2012.
At that stage police were held liable for delays and ordered to pay damages.
However, Mr and Mrs Jordan’s claim against the Coroner’s Office was dismissed at that stage.
Their lawyers have now gone to the Court of Appeal in a bid to have that decision overturned.
They allege that the Coroner is also responsible for failures to ensure the prompt investigation into their son’s death between May 2001, when the European Court of Human Rights ruled on the case, and September 2012.
A legal obligation to ensure no delay is imposed by human rights law, the family’s legal team contend.
Barristers Karen Quinlivan QC and Fiona Doherty QC alleged a series of reasons for the inquest delay, including coronial decisions to grant repeated adjournments, failures to ensure police complied with timetables, and inconsistent decision-making in relation to disclosure.
They stated: “There has been a failure to act expeditiously in respect of this inquest on the part of the State and, in particular, the Coroner and the PSNI.”
Outside court the Jordan family’s solicitor, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, said: “Our client believes that the coroners who have had carriage of Pearse Jordan’s inquest are responsible for substantial delay and that the trial judge was wrong to dismiss that aspect of her challenge.”