Retired RUC officers yesterday cleared the first stage in a High Court challenge to watchdog claims that police did nothing to alert the public to an IRA bomb that killed three neighbours.
They are seeking to quash a Police Ombudsman report which concluded there was a failure to protect the victims of the attack in the Creggan area of Londonderry.
The Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association claims there was no legal power to make findings it says contain inaccuracies.
Leave to seek a judicial review was granted on the basis that an arguable case has been established.
Proceedings were issued over an Ombudsman probe into the booby-trap bombing in August 1988.
The attack became known as the “Good Samaritan bomb” because the three friends had gone to check on the whereabouts of a neighbour kidnapped earlier by the IRA.
The IRA later apologised, admitting it planted the booby-trap device in a bid to kill soldiers.
The Ombudsman’s report – released last July – said that police officers had information about an IRA booby-trap bomb but did nothing to warn residents of the possible danger.
The findings provoked a furious reaction within the Retired Police Officers Association and a threatened boycott of Ombudsman investigations.
A legal challenge has now been initiated in a bid to have the findings quashed.
The case will now proceed to a full two-day hearing in May.
Outside court, the association’s solicitor, Dorcas Crawford, set out why the case was brought.
She said: “It’s important to establish their rights as retired officers because they are being implicated and criticised without the right to reply.”