Inquest delays could be costly

The government could face dozens of new compensation cases over delays in holding inquests into Troubles-related deaths.

As the families of five men killed either by police, soldiers or loyalist paramilitaries were given a High Court date for lawsuits, their lawyer predicted the outcome could have consequences for more than 70 other ‘legacy’ cases.

Relatives issued proceedings against the coroner and either the PSNI, Police Ombudsman’s Office or Ministry of Defence.

They claim their human rights have been breached by a failure to examine the circumstances surrounding each death as soon as possible.

Relatives of Neil McConville (21), the first person killed by the PSNI, are also mounting a case. Mr McConville, from Bleary, was shot following a police car chase near Lisburn in April 2003.

In each of the cases it is claimed that the state and the coroner breached their obligations to ensure prompt human rights-complaint investigations into the deaths.

A potential resolution to the joint judicial review challenge is understood to be close to agreement.