Coroner demands Stalker report

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NORTHERN Ireland's most senior coroner is pressing the Royal Ulster Constabulary to produce the secret Stalker report at three inquests scheduled for later this month.

A solicitor acting for the coroner, John Leckey, has served a subpoena on the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Annesley, requiring him to produce the report by John Stalker, the former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester.

Mr Stalker investigated the shootings by a special RUC unit of three unarmed IRA men in Co Armagh in 1982. His report, which was completed by another English police officer after Mr Stalker was suspended, has never been published.

Sir Hugh is expected to ask a judge to set aside the subpoena, which means it is unlikely that the first inquest will proceed as scheduled on 22 March. The inquests concern the IRA members Gervaise McKerr, Sean Burns and Eugene Toman.

Legal delays have made the cases Northern Ireland's longest-running legal saga. Proceedings were held up by a variety of delays. A legal challenge by families of the dead men, who wished to compel police involved to appear at the inquests, went to the House of Lords and took several years to resolve.