Sister of UVF victim loses dossier disclosure battle

Bobby Moffett was murdered on Belfast's Shankill Road in May 2010
Bobby Moffett was murdered on Belfast's Shankill Road in May 2010

The sister of a man murdered by loyalist paramilitaries on the streets of Belfast has lost her legal battle to secure disclosure of a full dossier on the shooting.

A High Court judge ruled that the Secretary of State was right to refuse to hand over all material gathered by an international body who examined Bobby Moffett’s “public execution”.

The victim’s sister, Irene Owens, wanted the information supplied to the coroner for an inquest into the killing.

But Mr Justice Treacy pointed out how the now defunct Independent Monitoring Commission had operated on a confidential basis in order to protect its sources.

He said: “Any decision other than that arrived at by the Secretary of State would have been a grave betrayal of those who assisted the vital work of the IMC, and of the IMC themselves.”

Once the “seal of its archive is broken” those who provided information to the body would be exposed to the risk of retribution, he added.

Mr Moffett, 43, was shot dead at point-blank range in front of shoppers and children on Belfast’s Shankill Road in May 2010.

Months later the IMC issued a special report declaring his murder had been sanctioned by the UVF’s leadership.

The international body concluded that he was targeted due to his perceived flouting of UVF authority, and to send a message to the organisation and the community that this authority was not to be challenged.

In its report the commission described the killing as a public execution, but declined to say that it amounted to a breach of the terror grouping’s ceasefire.

So far only an edited version of the report has been supplied for the purposes of holding an inquest.

Ms Owens, was seeking a judicial review which would compel the Secretary of State to release the dossier in full.

Her lawyers argued that anything less undermines the coroner’s ability to oversee a human rights-compliant inquest.