Victim of loyalist gun attack gets £90,000

A loyalist gun victim who claims a British army spy targeted him for murder is to receive £90,000 in damages, the High Court has heard.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 12th June 2019, 4:52 pm
Former soldier Brian Nelson was claimed to have been recruited by British intelligence
Former soldier Brian Nelson was claimed to have been recruited by British intelligence

Eamon Heatley sued the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the alleged role of clandestine agent Brian Nelson in setting up the attempt on his life.

Mr Heatley, a 61-year-old Catholic, was shot up to five times by loyalists at his home just outside north Belfast in August 1988.

A gunman posing as a taxi driver fired into the house on Elmfield Road, wounding him in the chest and leg.

Mr Heatley spent a period in intensive care, suffered long-term psychiatric injuries and was unable to return to work for six years after the shooting, according to his lawyers.

Proceedings centred on the part allegedly played by Nelson, a UDA man said to have been recruited to work for British intelligence.

Lawyers for Mr Heatley claimed negligence around failures to either warn him his life was in danger or to thwart the attack.

Legal papers set out that Nelson, a former British soldier who died in 2003, was actively involved in targeting the plaintiff and others for murder.

His handlers in the Force Research Unit (FRU), a branch of military intelligence, were aware of his role in selecting potential victims, it was alleged.

The case was listed for a two-day hearing at the High Court in Belfast.

But counsel for Mr Heatley, Brian Fee QC, announced a resolution had been reached following out of court discussions.

He confirmed: “The action is settled for £90,000 and costs (to Mr Heatley).”

Entering judgment for the plaintiff, Mr Justice Horner said: “The parties are to be congratulated in resolving their differences.”

Outside court Mr Heatley’s solicitor, Jack Quigley, said the outcome fully vindicated his decision to bring a lawsuit against the MoD.

Mr Quigley said: “My client and his family have battled for 30 years to gain recognition of the wrongs perpetrated against him by the state.

“They welcome today’s settlement and the relevant closure that it brings, and now look forward to moving on with their family life.”