Northern Ireland

Omagh civil case appeal could face delay

Omagh bomb scene
Image caption Twenty-nine people were murdered in the Real IRA attack

Appeals by four alleged dissident republicans held liable for the Omagh bomb atrocity could be delayed.

Lawyers for one of the men successfully sued by relatives of some of those murdered indicated a hearing planned for January may have to be put back.

The potential hold-up is due to material being sought in a bid to help overturn the original findings.

Twenty-nine people including a woman pregnant with twins were killed in the Real IRA bombing in August 1998.

After being updated duon Monday, Lord Justice Higgins told the legal teams involved: "If there is to be an application to vacate the date for which this appeal is presently fixed, that application will require to be made in the first half of November."

A separate bid by victims' families to obtain a more punitive award of exemplary damages against those deemed responsible is also due to be mounted during a scheduled two-week hearing.

In a landmark ruling last year Mr Justice Morgan, now the lord chief justice, ordered that more than £1.6m in total should be paid out to 12 relatives.

Four men were found liable for the atrocity: Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Seamus Daly and Colm Murphy.

Their planned challenges to the verdict were originally in doubt until they were all granted legal aid earlier this year.

During a review hearing on Monday Mary Higgins QC, for Daly, stressed that all involved wanted the appeal to go ahead on time.

But she flagged up potential delays over obtaining all transcripts and documents required to mount a full challenge to the original verdict.

'Conspiracy theories'

Brett Lockhart QC, for the victims' families, claimed the only difficulty appeared to be over Daly's requests for "all sorts of extraneous material".

Mr Lockhart said Daly wanted to go over "various other conspiracy theories", but accepted it was his right to bring the appeal in whatever way he wanted.

However, he added: "The fact they wish to have such a wide-ranging amount of documentation should not be permitted to delay the trial of this matter."

Lawyers on both sides were told to meet again later this week in an attempt to finalise indexes of material they will seek to rely on.

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