The North’s senior coroner is to stand aside from hearing an inquest into the killing of an IRA man shot dead by Crown forces 17 years ago.
Lawyers for John Leckey told the High Court he has decided to excuse himself from the tribunal which is due to examine the death of Pearse Jordan.
Mr Leckey’s decision was announced mid-way through an appeal against the dismissal of a legal bid by Pearse Jordan’s father, Hugh, to have him stand down from hearing the case.
Mr Jordan’s son, a 23-year-old unarmed IRA member, was killed in disputed circumstances following a car collision in west Belfast in November 1992.
Allegations of bias made against Mr Leckey centred on the outcome of applications for the granting of anonymity and/or screening of witnesses.
The identity of the RUC policeman who fired the fatal shots was never revealed.
Instead he has been known as Sergeant A.
Opening the challenge in the Court of Appeal, Barry Macdonald QC, for Mr Jordan, drew the judges attention to issues which had arisen over attempts to gain material ahead of the inquest.
“It seems the coroner actually disbelieves the representatives who act on behalf of the appellant and, in addition, seems to believe that if information had come into their possession it would have been used to undermine or compromise the anonymity of police officers involved in this matter,” he said.
“Counsel always have to guard against being over-sensitive or precious in these situations but that is a serious matter and has given rise clearly to a breakdown in trust and confidence between the bench and bar effectively.”
One of the judges in the inquest had remarked on potential difficulties as positions become more entrenched.
He also questioned whether it might be better for the case to be heard in front of a different coroner without any finding or criticism being made.
And, as the second day of the appeal got underway, Mr Leckey’s barrister confirmed he now intended to step aside from hearing the Jordan inquest.
His decision allowed the judges to dismiss the appeal without making any ruling.