A High Court judge has reversed a previous decision to throw out a damages claim brought by the husband of one of the Omagh bomb victims.
The ruling allows Laurence Rush, whose wife Elizabeth was among the 29 civilians who died in the attack, to proceed with his action against the PSNI police and the British government.
In 1998, State agencies tracked the ‘Real IRA’ Omagh bomb across the border but did not intercept it.
Despite tracking the bomb and tapping mobile phones used by the ‘Real IRA’ attackers, and receiving a number of warning telephone calls, the PSNI controversially failed to clear the area in the predominately nationalist town where the bomb was planted.
The widower sued the PSNI Chief and British government for failures in the apprehension, detection and pre-emptive arrest of the Real IRA team involved.
He also claimed for loss and damages, alleging that the PSNI failed to act upon information received on the August 1998 bomb plot, did not give adequate warnings or implement sufficient evacuation procedures.
His case was absurdly thrown out last May when a High Court master granted an application by the British government to strike it out on the basis that it was “frivolous or vexatious”.
It was stated that the claim was “unsustainable” and “without the potential for success”.
But Mr Rush’s lawyers appealed that decision, instructing high-profile English barrister Michael Mansfield QC to lead their challenge, prompting a significant change in legal fortunes.
In the event the judge did not require to hear from Mr Mansfield before deciding that the case should go to trial.
He upheld the appeal, prompting Mr Mansfield’s only submission when he told the judge, “Thank you.”
Mr Rush did not attend the hearing due to ill health, but outside the court his solicitor Des Doherty said: “After a long battle that involved closed hearings for nearly two years we are now content that the case is allowed to proceed.”
Mr Doherty added, “This is a legal issue that is clearly going to be tested before the courts in the next number of years and it potentially has ramifications for quite a number of cases in the north of Ireland involving the security forces.”