PSNI chief given seven weeks to reveal 'shoot-to-kill' reports

PSNI chief given seven weeks to reveal 'shoot-to-kill' reports

A Belfast coroner today gave the North's Chief Constable seven weeks to hand over top secret reports on an alleged police shoot-to-kill policy during the Troubles.

John Leckey issued the deadline in the face of ongoing police reluctance to disclose the never-published Stalker and Sampson reports to assist his probe into the RUC killings of six men in late 1982.

While Mr Leckey has been given sight of documents, he has ordered that they are made available to the court so the inquests can finally get under way.

The court request will be one of the first issues new Chief Constable Matt Baggott will have to address when he takes up his post next week following the departure of Hugh Orde.

"The Chief Constable should provide copies of these reports to me, in redacted form if that's viewed by the Chief Constable as necessary," said Mr Leckey, setting a deadline of November 9.

The coroner said he would then look at any redactions to see if there were grounds to request that further details were disclosed ahead of another preliminary hearing on November 23rd.

The alleged shoot-to-kill operations were carried out in the Co Armagh area in the weeks following the murders of three police officers in an IRA landmine.

They refer to three separate incidents: the shooting dead of IRA men Gervaise McKerr, Eugene Toman and John Burns in Lurgan on November 11, 1982, the shooting of Catholic teenager Michael Tighe near Craigavon on November 24, 1982, and the killings of INLA suspects Seamus Grew and Roddy Carroll near Armagh city on December 12, 1982.

The investigation into whether the police set out to kill was conducted by former Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable John Stalker and Colin Sampson of the West Yorkshire Police.

At today's hearing in Mays Chambers, lawyer for the PSNI Tony McGleenan said the police would need more time to carry out security assessments on the lengthy reports.

"The process is ongoing in regard to their security classification," he said.

While Mr McGleenan suggested a six month time frame would be more appropriate, Mr Leckey refused to extend his seven week deadline.

"I think that's a reasonable time frame," he said.


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