Families win first stage of battle over inquests suspension

John Leckey (l) John Mr Larkin (r) NI's senior coroner John Leckey (l) said Mr Larkin (r) may have exceeded his powers

Related Stories

Families of people killed in controversial circumstances during the Troubles have been granted leave to appeal a decision to suspend inquests into the deaths.

NI's senior coroner John Leckey suspended 21 inquests that were ordered by the Attorney General, John Larkin.

Mr Leckey said Mr Larkin may have exceeded his powers by ordering the hearings.

The inquests were adjourned due to potential national security concerns.

On Monday, a number of the families were given leave to apply for a judicial review of Mr Leckey's decision, at the High Court in Belfast.

Counsel for Mr Leckey said there was a question over whether the attorney general was acting outside his remit because some of the cases might include matters of national security.

'Blanket suspension'

In such cases the power to direct an inquest rests with the advocate general for England and Wales since national security matters are not a devolved power.

Counsel for the families told the court if Mr Leckey had an issue with Mr Larkin's inquest orders he should have challenged them on a "case by case basis" in the High Court rather than issue what was described as a "blanket suspension".

Counsel for the coroner said Mr Leckey wanted clarity that the inquests had been properly ordered at the outset.

He said it was not in anyone's interests for the inquests to start, only to be stopped "due to a technicality".

The court was told the families should have been able to make submissions before Mr Leckey made his decision.

Instead many had heard about it on the BBC, the court heard.

The cases include the deaths of 11 people shot dead by the Army in Ballymurphy in 1971 and a child shot dead with a plastic bullet.

It also includes that of Gerard Slane shot dead by loyalists in his west Belfast home in 1988 amid allegations of collusion involving Army agent Brian Nelson.

The case is being taken by Mr Slane's widow, Teresa, who was denied legal aid to mount it.

The Relatives for Justice group was in court and welcomed the outcome.

The case has been listed for hearing on February 18.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.