The family of one of two IRA Volunteers shot dead by the British Army’s ‘elite’ SAS unit has won permission to challenge an inquest verdict that the killings were justified.
A High Court judge granted leave to seek a judicial review on the tribunal into the deaths of Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew.
The judge ruled that an arguable case had been made that not enough was done to secure the attendance of a key witness.
Martin McCaughey’s sister is seeking to have the inquest findings quashed.
The two men were shot more than 30 times when an SAS unit ambushed them at farm buildings near Loughgall, County Armagh in October 1990. No attempt was made to arrest the men.
At an inquest in May the jury found the killings were ‘lawful’ and accepted the claims of the British soldiers that they feared their own lives were in immediate danger.
Since then, the McCaughey family have sought leave for a judicial review of the verdicts on a number of grounds.
The family’s legal team argued that the inquest had failed to comply with procedural protections guaranteed under European law and failed to constitute an independent and effective investigation into the deaths.
It was also argued that the jury members had been denied access to material relevant to questions on the British shoot-to-kill policy at the time.
Another key complaint centred on the failure to secure the re-attendance at the hearing of a British military witness identified only as ‘Soldier A’.
He was also linked to the use of lethal force in the SAS shooting of another IRA man, Francis Bradley, near Toombebridge four years earlier.
‘Soldier A’ led the unit that shot Grew and McCaughey and initially gave evidence at the inquest.
However, he refused to return to the hearing after it was ruled he could be questioned about his involvement in the Bradley shooting and about evidence which showed that all three IRA men had been shot while lying fatally wounded on the ground.
Justice Weatherup ruled this week that the failure to get ‘Soldier A’ back into the witness box was sufficient to give leave for the case to go to a full judicial review hearing later this year -- but rejected the other arguments.
Following the verdict the McCaughey family’s solicitor, Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane, said: “We welcome the High Court decision to grant leave on this central issue.
“We will also be considering the merits of an appeal on the grounds on which leave has been refused.”