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Omagh case appeal centres on MI5 agent's credibility
Omagh case appeal centres on MI5 agent's credibility

Four republicans are appealing against a civil ruling that found them responsible for the Omagh attack in 1998

  • Henry McDonald in Belfast
  •, Monday 10 January 2011 13.19 GMT [Image: Omagh-victims-relatives-007.jpg] Omagh bomb victims' relatives outside Belfast high court after winning compensation in 2009. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images An MI5 agent's credibility is at the centre of an appeal by four republicans accused of being behind the Omagh bomb atrocity, a court heard today.
    David Rupert infiltrated the Real IRA and provided evidence against the four men, who are appealing against a historic civil case judgment that held them liable for the massacre.
    His intelligence for MI5 was used in the civil action against the Real IRA founder Michael McKevitt and three other men Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly.
    They were found to be responsible for the terrorist attack by a judge in a landmark civil case brought by victims' families at Belfast high court in June 2009. The judge recommended that they pay £1.6m in compensation to the victims' families.
    All four who were named in court as leading Real IRA activists have started their appeal against that judgment in the court of appeal in Belfast.
    Serious doubts were raised by the four men's legal team today in opening statements about the credibility of the intelligence reports.
    Rupert, an American trucker who posed as a gunrunner for the Real IRA, did not give evidence himself in the original civil case. The lawyers also pointed to intelligence material that was not produced in the original civil action in their attempt to have the ruling overturned.
    Opening the appeal case, McKevitt's barrister, Michael O'Higgins, said objective evidence showed Rupert was a liar. "Mr Rupert is a pathological liar and a confidence trickster, and a man who it was very strongly submitted [at the civil case], a submission based on forensic investigation, engaged in serial perjury in the course of giving his evidence in the Dublin trial," he said.
    O'Higgins said the fact that Rupert had not given evidence in the civil case had denied McKevitt an opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
    Among those attending the opening day of the appeal were Stanley McCombe, whose wife was killed in the bombing.
    The Omagh families took their civil action to the high court in Belfast after the police failed to secure a criminal conviction over the 1998 Real IRA bombing of the Co Tyrone town. They sued five men and the Real IRA as an organisation for up to £14m in a case which made legal history when it sat to hear evidence in both Belfast and Dublin.
    The Omagh bomb killed 29 people and injured dozens more. It was the single biggest atrocity of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
    The campaign by the 12 Omagh relatives to take the civil action won the support of Bill Clinton, the former Northern Ireland secretaries Peter Mandelson and Sir Patrick Mayhew, the musician Bob Geldof and the boxing champion Barry McGuigan.
    The relatives are also appealing against part of the June 2009 judgment in the court of appeal today.
    Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the car bomb attack, said the families' appeal against the compensation case would be heard alongside the appeal by the four dissident republicans challenging the findings of liability.
    Gallagher said: "We are appealing the amount that was awarded.
    "We were awarded compensation but believed the court should have awarded exemplary damages."

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

Omagh bomb: Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly found liable at retrial

Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed in the bombing


Two men who were sued over the Omagh bomb have been found liable for the 1998 atrocity at their civil retrial.
The judge described the evidence against Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly as overwhelming.
The action was taken by the victims' families, who have been awarded £1.6m damages.
Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed in the Real IRA attack on the County Tyrone town in August 1998.
Delivering his summary, Mr Justice Gillen recognised the scale of the terrorist outrage for which no one has ever been convicted.
"The barrier of time has not served to disguise the enormity of this crime, the wickedness of its perpetrators and the grief of those who must bear its consequences," he said.
"Even 15 years on nothing can dilute the pulsing horror of what happened."
Lord Brennan QC, who represented the families, said the bereaved relatives were determined that the damages would be paid.
"Enforcement will be pursued with vigour here and in other relevant jurisdictions," he said.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the bombing, described it as an "important judgement".
"We will be pursuing the judgement because it would be a very hollow judgement if it was merely words," he said.
"We will be doing our best to try and recover the damages but at the moment, we're just happy that we've got a judgement that we, the families, the victims, have held someone to account for what happened at Omagh."
Circumstantial evidence During the retrial it was claimed that Colm Murphy supplied mobile phones to the bomb team.
Mr Justice Gillen said there was compelling circumstantial evidence that two phones linked to Colm Murphy were used in the attack, with anyone who knowingly provided them to the bomb team liable.
The builder's denials about lending his phone to anyone and subsequent explanation to police in the Irish Republic were wholly implausible and amounted to lies with no innocent explanation, according to the judge.
The coincidence of a similar unexplained use by the same phone in an earlier bombing in Banbridge was found to amount to further probative evidence of Murphy's involvement in the Omagh operation.
"To suggest that for a second time his phone had been mysteriously used without his knowledge moves one into the realm of fantasy," Mr Justice Gillen said.
[Image: _66499303_omagh.jpg] Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly have been found liable for the Omagh bomb at their civil retrial
He described Mr Murphy's explanation for failing to give evidence as being due to his lack of confidence in the judicial system as "bordering on the risible".
"It makes the prima facie case even stronger and renders it now overwhelming," he added.
The same verdict was returned against Seamus Daly, based on his conversation on one of the bomb-run phones less than an hour after the explosion.
Mr Daly's guilty plea and conviction for Real IRA membership in November 2000 was also taken into account.
"This was relevant not just to propensity but was logically probative in determining the issue of liability in this case," Mr Justice Gillen said.
Involvement Neither man was at the High Court in Belfast to hear the 73-page judgement.
"I have determined that both defendants were involved in assisting the preparation, planting and detonation of the bomb," Mr Justice Gillen said.
Stanley McCombe, who lost his wife Ann in the atrocity, said he hoped the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Siochana in the Republic would now review the evidence following the verdict.
"Out of all this, what we have heard from the judge, I think the Gardai, PSNI, and the bodies that be, have to really look at all this information and all this evidence and see if there is a case that these people have to answer for," he said.
Mr Gallagher said the Omagh families would be seeking an "early meeting" with the PSNI chief constable, Matt Baggott.
"We believe it's important that he looks at the judgement that was delivered, that there could be the possibility of pursuing the individuals that we have held to account in a criminal court," he said.
"We just cannot accept that 31 people can be murdered and no-one can be brought to justice for that crime."
Following the verdict, Lord Brennan QC, said he wanted the nine-year-long legal battle brought to an end.
Opposing a stay on the judgment pending any further challenge, the barrister described the verdict against Mr Murphy and Mr Daly as "damning".
"The prospects on appeal are, in our submission, zero," he said.
"The defendants have had their full measure of legal aid and the ability to participate in this trial. Let it come to an end."
The barrister also confirmed plans to pursue all four men now held liable for the bombing.
To date, no-one has been successfully criminally prosecuted for the bombing.
In the absence of criminal convictions, the victims' families took a landmark civil action, seeking damages from the men they believed were responsible.
The retrial followed the original Omagh bomb civil case, which is believed to be the first time anywhere in the world that alleged members of a terrorist organisation have been sued.
Damages The first trial concluded in June 2009, when a judge ruled that four men - Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly - were all responsible for carrying out the atrocity.
The 12 relatives who had taken the action were awarded more than £1.6m in damages.
Mr McCombe said the families had not received "one single penny" from that judgement.
However, the four men who were found liable subsequently launched appeals.
Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell [url=]failed to have the civil judgement against them overturned
two years later.
Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were successful in upholding their appeals in July 2011, but the pair were then ordered to face a retrial of the civil case.
Mr Murphy a Dundalk-based publican and contractor, and former employee Seamus Daly, from Cullaville, County Monaghan, denied playing central roles in the atrocity.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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