Liam Fox: Compensation payout for IRA getaway driver ‘outrageous’

The £75,000 compensation payment to Aidan McKeever – who was wounded by undercover soldiers following an IRA machine gun attack on Coalisland’s RUC station in 1992 – has been described as “outrageous” by defence secretary Liam Fox.

Mr McKeever, who acted as an unarmed getaway driver for the IRA in the February 1992 attack, was awarded the compensation payout by judge Mr Justice Treacy at the High Court in Belfast on Friday, October 7.

According to the Newsletter, Mr Fox said: “Instinctively, I find it quite outrageous that the government is being ordered to pay compensation to the getaway driver for terrorists who had just used a heavy machine gun and rifles to attack a police station.”

Mr Fox’s comments come after TUV leader Jim Allister called for a change in the legal system to prevent such legal actions in future.

It is not yet known if the MoD will launch an appeal against the compensation payment.

Four IRA men were shot dead by the soldiers as they arrived in the car park of St Patrick’s Church in Clonoe immediately after the RUC barracks attack in Coalisland.

The IRA members were carrying AKM assault rifles, and were travelling in a flatbed lorry with a Russian-made DHSK 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounted on the rear.

Mr McKeever was driving what was to be a getaway car and was seen entering the car park before the lorry arrived, the court heard.

His car was hit by at least 15 bullets fired by four soldiers, according to a forensic scientist.

Mr McKeever later pleaded guilty to assisting offenders and received a three-year suspended jail sentence.

He sued the MoD for assault and battery, alleging the soldiers opened fire on him when he was unarmed and not close to anyone with a weapon.

It was also claimed that Mr McKeever was given no warning or any opportunity to surrender.

MoD lawyers defended the action, arguing justified force was used as the soldiers reasonably believed the IRA team intended to kill them.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Treacy noted how only one of the soldiers who fired at Mr McKeever was called by the defence, despite special measures being taken to protect their anonymity.

He said the others were no longer prepared to give evidence after this witness – Soldier A – gave an “utterly implausible” and “incredible” account.

With no steps taken to compel them to testify, Mr Justice Treacy said he inferred that their evidence was likely to have been unhelpful to the MoD.


>Full Newsletter story: Payout to IRA driver ‘outrageous’

>BBC report: Judge rules getaway driver shooting ‘not justified’

>View a television report broadcast shortly after the IRA attack in 1992


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