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05 December 2016

Pearse Jordan Inquest - Further Rulings - Summary of Judgments

Mr Justice Horner, sitting as a Coroner, today delivered two rulings further to the judgment, verdict and findings he delivered on 7 November 2016 in the inquest touching on the death of Pearse Jordan on 25 November 1992.

The rulings related to:

- Anonymity Orders relating to Officers M and Q; and

- Issues relating to whether Officers M and Q should be reported to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Justice Horner said that he was satisfied that the grant of anonymity to Officer M and Officer Q remains justified.

He also indicated that he intends to exercise his discretion and report Officers M and Q to the Director of Public Prosecutions because he considers that their behaviour sought to conceal the role played by DP2 in the events of 25 November 1992.

Referral of Officers M and Q to the Director of Public Prosecutions

In the judgment into the death of Pearse Jordan, Mr Justice Horner concluded that one or both of the Officers had edited the original logbook by removing all entries made before 5.03pm. He also concluded that they had not been truthful when they told him that “they had no idea that there was a real possibility the driver of the Orion was DP2, a hardened member of PIRA with a history of involvement in explosives and firearms.”

The Judge said that there is a basis for concluding that the two officers may have committed offences, namely that they sought to pervert the course of justice and/or that they committed perjury.

The Judge considered the relevant legislation, namely section 35(3) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, and whether he was compelled to report any suspected wrongdoing. The Judge indicated that he does not consider he is bound by statute to report Officers M and Q, or the civilian witnesses for any potential wrongdoing uncovered in the course of the inquest. He decided however that despite not being bound by any statute to refer the matter to the DPP, that he would exercise his direction and refer both officers. He indicated that their attempted concealment could have seriously impacted the inquest.

Anonymity Orders relating to Officers M and Q

The Judgment which the Judge delivered in this inquest in November stated:

The evidence of Officers M and Q on the logbook issue was inconsistent and contradictory. Their explanations as to why it commenced at 503pm were entirely unconvincing. I had an opportunity to watch as Mr Macdonald QC cross-examined them and I did not believe their testimony on this issue. I consider that one or both of them had edited the original log by removing all entries made before 503pm.”

The Judge went on to say:

Officers M and Q were untruthful in their testimonies when they claimed that they had no idea that there was a real possibility the driver of the Orion was DP2, a hardened member of PIRA with a history of involvement in explosives and firearms.”

After delivering this judgment, solicitor for the next of kin requested that the ruling on anonymity for Officers M and Q be reversed. The correspondence from the next of kin stated:

“Given Mr Justice Horner’s findings, it is our submission that accountability under Article 2 requires that the identity of those who, on the balance of probabilities, perjured themselves in the course of the inquest, and destroyed evidence relevant to a murder investigation, ought no longer be withheld from the next of kin, or the general public. It is our submission that the findings have shifted the balance against anonymity and in favour of identification.”

The Judge considered that the grant of anonymity to Officers M and Q was made on the basis of an objectively verified risk to life. The threat to Officer M was assessed as MODERATE, namely “an attack is possible, but not likely”, but that in the event of an appearance at the inquest without anonymity and screening the threat was likely to rise within and possibly beyond the MODERATE threat band. The threat to Officer Q was assessed as LOW, namely “an attack is unlikely”, but potentially rising to MODERATE or beyond in the event of an appearance at the inquest without anonymity.

The Judge gave consideration to all the factors and concluded that he remains satisfied that the grant of anonymity to Officers M and Q is a necessary and proportionate response to the risk to life posed to those officers in this case.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. This summary should be read together with the judgment delivered on 7 November 2016 and rulings dated 21 November and 5 December 2016, and should not be read in isolation. Nothing said in this summary adds to or amends the judgment. The full judgment and rulings will be available on the Court Service website (www.courtsni.gov.uk).

ENDS

If you have any further enquiries about this or other court related matters please contact:

Catherine Burns

Lord Chief Justice’s Office

Royal Courts of Justice

Chichester Street

BELFAST

BT1 3JF

Telephone: 028 9072 5962

E-mail: Catherine.Burns@courtsni.gov.uk