British secrecy effort knocked back
British secrecy effort knocked back


An attempt by the PSNI and British government to block the release of even a brief summary of information from Crown force intelligence about the sectarian murder of Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson in April 1994 has been branded a “total waste of resources”.

A High Court judge dismissed the judicial review application on Monday. The legal action was launched over a decision by a coroner to provide a redacted summary, known as a ‘gist’, to Eugene Thompson, Paul’s brother.

The 25-year-old was gunned down after UDA members cut a hole in a peace line fence close to a British Army base to enter a nationalist area. Collusion is widely suspected in the killing.

Speaking outside court, Mr Thompson described it as a “stressful and very difficult time.”

“There was absolutely no need for this challenge to have been brought,” he said. “It was a total waste of resources and has unnecessarily delayed getting on with the inquest.”

The ruling is expected to strengthen the position of coroners to release summaries of classified information if they make the decision to do so.

Mr Thompson hoped his brother’s inquest can now resume.

“This ruling should help other families. Hopefully, we can now move swiftly in concluding Paul’s inquest.”

The campaign group Relatives for Justice also hit out at the British government’s latest attempt to use the policy of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) to obstruct justice.

CEO Mark Thompson aid the ruling is of major significance. He said the British state cannot just “hoist the flag” of NCND and expect the court to salute it.

“Conscious that this case was about the gisting of an intelligence file as opposed to the file itself being made fully available, it nevertheless has far wider, indeed positive, benefits for open justice and not least for families involved in legacy cases,” he said.

Gemma McKeown, from the Committee on the Administration of Justice, said the ruling upholds the “vital and independent” role of the coroner in balancing competing public interests.

“We now look forward to receiving the gist and getting this delayed inquest back on track so that it can conclude before May 1.”

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