Ex-prisoner loses Chief Constable legal case

Brian Sheridan was arrested in connection with an arms find in Keady, Co Armagh
Brian Sheridan was arrested in connection with an arms find in Keady, Co Armagh

An ex-prisoner who claims he was “hunted” by police in a failed bid to recruit him as an informer has lost a legal action against the Chief Constable.

Co Tyrone man Brian Sheridan, 40, issued proceedings over alleged approaches by an undercover officer in Norway and Northern Ireland to become a covert human intelligence source.

Sheridan, who was caught in a car with guns in 2011, claimed a lack of regulatory policy rendered the activity unlawful.

But a High Court judge dismissed his challenge against the PSNI after ruling that any approaches are covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Mr Justice Maguire also held that a case against the Police Ombudsman for rejecting a complaint about the officer’s actions should instead be pursued through a tribunal set up under RIPA.

In 2013 Sheridan, from Blackwatertown, pleaded guilty to weapons offences linked to the recovery of rifles and handguns from a Citroen Xantia stopped by police in Keady, Co Armagh.

He has always denied press reports that he was a member of the Real IRA or any other outlawed organisation.

Following his release from prison he went on holiday to Oslo with his partner in February 2015.

In a statement he described being left scared aafter three officers repeatedly approached him, one introducing himself as ‘Fergie’.

Sheridan said he told the men to leave him alone, but was targeted again at a vehicle checkpoint in Armagh in October of that year.

He claimed one of the men involved in that unwanted roadside approach was Fergie.

His lawyers argued that there had been a breach of his rights to life and privacy.

He further claimed that the Ombudsman failed to properly investigate his grievances.

Mr Justice Maguire said he was left in no substantial doubt that PSNI officers were seeking to persuade Sherian to become a covert human intelligence source.

But he held that any activity was regulated by RIPA.

The judge said Sheridan’s case against the Chief Constable was “misconceived”, and would also have been dismissed due to the delay in issuing legal action.