Northern Ireland

Father loses legal case against PSNI

The father of a seven-year-old boy who left NI with his mother to be with her partner, an alleged loyalist agent, has lost his legal case.

He took legal action against police who helped in the re-location.

The man claimed the PSNI were negligent and breached his right to family life over their involvement in the operation of a witness protection scheme.

But a High Court judge threw out his case after ruling that officers had not acted unlawfully at any stage.

Mr Justice Gillen said: "I find no evidence that the police had placed (the boy) in a 'dangerous' situation with the alleged informer.

"It was the choice of his mother, not that of the defendant, to take the child to England to reside with (her partner)."

The man, who cannot be named to protect his child's identity, sued the chief constable for alleged negligence and breach of the right to family life.

He brought the case after tracking the boy down and winning a court order to have him returned home.

Holiday

It was claimed that his ex-wife left to go to England in March 2007, taking their son with her, for what he was told was just a holiday.

His lawyers argued that the boy was exposed to danger because an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) unit was believed to be prepared to murder the mother's boyfriend if he could be located.

The paramilitary group believed the suspected informer had betrayed them by collaborating with the authorities, the court was told.

However, the judge ruled that it could not be argued that the police played any role in interfering with the child's right to liberty.

Mr Justice Gillen said: "Once the mother of this child had decided to join her partner in England with her son, and had communicated this to the police, I found nothing untoward about the police taking steps to try to protect her carrying out that decision given that she was involved allegedly with a police informant."

"There was no evidence that police culpably facilitated or aided in the interference with any rights of any member of the family.

"To suggest, as the plaintiffs have done in this case, that the defendant was party to 'abduction' of this child is unwarranted and unsupported by any of the facts before me.

Dismissing all claims, he added: "I find no ground for criticising the actions of the defendant and no basis for asserting an element of culpability on the part of the police."