Press Release – 19th January 2002
Statement from Relatives for Justice spokesperson Mark Thompson on
behalf of the family of Pearse Jordan.
‘Today’s decision on the Jordan Inquest fails to meet inquest
requirements overall and is minimalist by not allowing juries to return
verdicts that apportion culpability and guilt for killings. Yesterday’s
decision failed to uphold the right of an inquest jury to return a
verdict of ‘unlawful killing’.
The compellability of witness, ‘Sergeant A’ in this instance to
attend the inquest and give evidence is only one element in a range of
issues that still need to be adequately addressed and implemented.
Undoubtedly ‘witness A’ will be granted anonymity continuing the lack
of openness, transparency and ultimately due process around this RUC
Changes must include juries being able to deliver full verdicts, the
independent and impartial examination of all evidence and statements
including forensic, ballistic and pathology evidence by expert
witnesses, and the scope and nature of how inquests should be conducted
Today’s ruling should not be presented in any other way and as yet
many more changes are required.
In cases such as the killing of Pearse Jordan, where the RUC
investigated themselves, the use of public independent inquiry to
examine all pertaining matters including planning and cover-up should
also take place.
Compliance with these requirements, and those that meet the criteria
laid down under international law and agreements, must be immediately
implemented if the bereaved and the wider public are to ever have any
confidence in the ability of Inquest Courts to function as a tool in the
interests of accountability, truth and justice.’ Ends
- The Inquest Court has been an obstacle to ascertaining the full
truth surrounding controversial state killings whereby those guilty
are effectively receiving impunity.
- Many practicing lawyers that represented families bereaved by
actions of the state simply boycotted inquests describing them as
‘shams’ contrived to provide a semblance of function when in reality
they are completely and deliberately inept. Relatives also felt that
the inquest officially rubber-stamped the ‘cover-ups’ that had
subsequently taken place via the RUC (police) investigations, and the
thereafter decisions of the DPP not to prosecute members of the RUC
and British army.
- The European Court on Human Rights, under Article 2 of the
Convention, upheld this view in its ruling last May. In respect of
inquests there now needs to be compliance with this ruling in a manner
that satisfies the particular and specific requirements laid down in
international law, covenants, and treaty’s that Britain subscribes to.
- The legal action, which led to today’s judgment, was due to the
failure of the Lord Chancellor to implement changes in line with
recent developments. These emerged after the racist killing of London
teenager Stephen Lawrence and the recommendations of resulting
McPhearson Report, which the Lord Chancellor had committed to
implement. They are also in line with the review of Coroners Rules
currently underway, and changes which the Lord Chancellor has already