Northern Ireland

Taxi driver John Flynn in legal bid over UVF collusion probe

Mount Vernon UVF mural
Image caption The investigation centred around the activities of the UVF in the Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast

A Catholic taxi driver who survived two murder attempts has begun a High Court challenge over the alleged failure to investigate security force collusion with loyalist killers.

John Flynn claims former Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson did not adequately implement recommendations to examine whether agents' handlers committed any crimes.

His case was put on hold after a judge was told progress has been made with Mr Hutchinson's successor, Dr Michael Maguire.

A notorious Ulster Volunteer Force unit based in Mount Vernon, north Belfast, are believed to be responsible for two attempts to murder Mr Flynn in the 1990s.

A gunman tried to ambush him as he picked up a taxi fare, and a bomb was placed under his car.

The attacks on Mr Flynn were investigated as part of a wider probe into the Mount Vernon UVF gang's terror campaign, including a series of killings.

The investigation, Operation Ballast, was set up by Mr Hutchinson's predecessor, Nuala O'Loan

Her highly critical report, published in January 2007, found members of RUC Special Branch had allowed UVF informers to act with impunity, and that the gang may have been involved in up to 15 murders.

Mr Flynn's lawyers say that when Mr Hutchinson took over as Police Ombudsman, the onus was on him to examine alleged security force criminality.

They have lodged judicial review papers claiming that he failed to meet a requirement set out in the Operation Ballast report.

However, it was disclosed in court on Wednesday that progress has been made during talks since Dr Maguire came into post.

A barrister for Mr Flynn said: "There has been a meeting in which the Ombudsman has shown genuine willingness to move on the matter."

With a further meeting due next month, Mr Justice Treacy agreed to adjourn the case until it has taken place.

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