The mother of a loyalist murder victim has been granted permission to legally challenge the rehiring of retired RUC officers to assist investigations into unsolved murders.
Lawyers for Vivienne McCord argued the process of contracting former officers who left with redundancy packages under the Patten reforms was “tainted with illegality”.
Her son, Raymond McCord Jr, was beaten to death in 1997 by a UVF gang led by a police agent.
Five years ago, the then Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan published a devastating report which said the gang that murdered him contained a number of paid Special Branch agents and had been responsible for up to 16 murders.
The report said there had been collusion, with some police officers protecting their agents and making sure they were not caught.
The policy of rehiring retired RUC officers who left with generous Patten redundancy payments is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the government’s spending watchdog, the Audit Office.
The court was told that these support staff, brought in under a statutory scheme, should only be involved in detention and escort duties.
Senior counsel for the chief constable, Tony McGleenan QC, argued Mrs McCord should have first inquired whether any former RUC officers were involved in the investigation into her son’s murder.
He claimed it was wrong to instead subject entire police employment practices to scrutiny, and warned that if the judicial review succeeded it could result in police being “paralysed” in attempts to contract anyone for service work.
However, Mr Justice Treacy said their case “raises issues of some importance” and had enough merit to be allowed to advance to a full one-day hearing in December.
“There is a degree of urgency in this case,” he added.
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