Northern Ireland

On the Runs: Shankill bombers 'not issued comfort letters', court hears

Shankill bomb Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A judge is yet to decide whether to grant Ms Morrison a judicial review

None of the six Shankill bomb suspects received so-called comfort letters issued in the On the Runs scheme, Belfast's High Court has heard.

Counsel for Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and the police gave the assurance on Friday.

They are resisting a legal challenge brought by a pensioner who lost three members of her family in the attack.

Elizabeth Morrison wants a judicial review into the controversial letters.

The secretary of state previously warned paramilitary suspects who received the letters not to rely on them as an amnesty from prosecution.

But the 81-year-old's barrister said Ms Villiers' statement was "not worth the Hansard paper it's printed on".

Mrs Morrison's son Michael, his partner Evelyn Baird and their seven-year-old daughter Michelle were among 10 people killed in the October 1993 attack on Belfast's Shankill Road.

Her legal challenge centres on a press report that one of the bomb suspects who fled across the Irish border was among nearly 200 republicans in receipt of a secret letter stating he was not wanted by police.

The On the Runs scheme provoked outrage after County Donegal man John Downey's trial on charges linked to the 1982 London Hyde Park bombing collapsed in February 2014.

Suspects

He had been mistakenly sent a government letter saying he was not wanted for questioning by police.

The full scale of the administrative scheme involving other republican paramilitary suspects then emerged.

Police were said to believe 95 of those people who received letters could be linked to nearly 300 murders.

Reserving judgment on the application for leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Maguire pledged to give his decision as soon as possible.