Lord Morrow questions whether 'absconding Ardboe terror suspect' has 'been disappeared'

Lord Morrow is questioning whether McLaughlin has absconded or 'been disappeared'
Lord Morrow is questioning whether McLaughlin has absconded or 'been disappeared'

The number of remaining questions around the 'disappearance' of a man due to stand trial in relation to the murder of prison officer David Black, has been slated by the DUP's Lord Morrow.

Lord Morrow has described how he submitted questions to the Minister for Justice as well as writing to the Chief Constable, Law Society and Bar Council.

But he said some of the replies he got "bore no resemblance to the question whatsoever".

Blasting the justice system for its failures over "absconding terror suspect" Damien McLaughlin, he called for examination of certain details of the case.

But he has also questioned whether the Ardboe man at the heart of the case has absconded, or if he has "been disappeared".

"I submitted numerous questions to the Minister for Justice and wrote to the Chief Constable, The Law Society and The Bar Council in respect of this disturbing incident," the Assembly candidate said.

"The Chief Constable has acknowledged my letter and the questions therein, but to date has not responded substantively.

"In respect of The Law Society, I enquired if the solicitors acting for McLauglin had notified the court of a potentially absconding client, as per the expectations as officers of the court. I attached a relevant answer from the Minister for Justice on this specific point.

"The reply bore no resemblance to the question whatsoever, instead directing me to NI Court Service, which was unnecessary as I had all information relevant to that agency’s input, and as such formed no part of my enquiry.

"I have replied in the hope of a proper response from The Law Society to the matter at hand.

"My enquiries with The Law Society have become more relevant as it has now been established PSNI contacted McLaughlin’s lawyers seeking a contact number. According to the Chief Constable, the firm in question failed to respond.

"This must be examined to ascertain if this is conducive to expectations of officers of the court.

"The Bar Counsel replied advising barristers are dependent on being kept informed by their instructing solicitors. That of course places the matter back with The Law Society for clarification as to whether the solicitors acted as expected as officers of the court."

He went on to say that: "Overall however this matter was grossly mishandled by the PSNI who should have jumped at the first indication of a breach in bail terms.

"This is after all a terrorism case in which Mr Black was murdered whilst on his way to work. As the only person to date charged in connection to that murder, PSNI should have been ultra-alert to the necessity of ensuring McLaughlin faced the courts.

"There was far too much laxity afforded in this instance by police and that has severely impacted upon the overall case of the brutal murder of Mr Black, and his family who whilst consumed with grief are failed in such a dramatic manner by authorities.

"This whole incident requires a thorough investigation into all facets involved in what is without doubt a deplorable situation, including police, judiciary, and legal representatives and their governing bodies.

"I will continue to demand answers and will not be silenced by curt replies of being unable to discuss.

"Of course, this is relevant mostly if McLaughlin has absconded. What if as I have already alluded to, he has been disappeared?

"I remain disgusted as to Sinn Fein’s conspicuous silence on this matter. Their stance almost without precedent and in stark contrast to their condemnation of other similar instances, amid calls for the allowance of due process and innocence until proven guilty.

"It is however notable Sinn Fein have always been remarkably quiet over issues around the disappeared and the arbitrary matter in which such victims were summarily dispatched and hidden.

"Even during an Assembly debate on bail issues for persons accused of terrorism offences, Sinn Fein were the only speakers who sidestepped the issue of McLaughlin, and instead lectured human rights. Even when directly challenged in the chamber, they sat stone-faced and silent.

"Whatever their position, right-minded citizens are calling for anyone with information on McLaughlin’s whereabouts, to come forward."