Adair may launch legal challenge to re-arrest

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The Independent Online

A legal move could be launched against the Government to have former loyalist paramilitary commander Johnny Adair freed, it has emerged.

A legal move could be launched against the Government to have former loyalist paramilitary commander Johnny Adair freed, it has emerged.

Lawyers are to have talks with the 36-year-old, who was sent back to jail after fresh violence linked to feuding paramilitaries in north and west Belfast.

Adair is being held in Maghaberry Prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim after his arrest in Belfast last night when Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson suspended the licence under which he was given early release form jail under the Good Friday Agreement.

As Mr Mandelson held new talks with senior security advisers at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down today, associates of Adair confirmed he may seek a judicial review challenging the Secretary of State's decision.

Even senior security sources believe the prison sentence review board could have difficulty upholding Mr Mandelson's decision.

John White, chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, the political wing of the UFF, said Adair would meet his lawyers at Maghaberry jail later today to consider seeking a High Court judicial review.

Mr Mandelson, who met Army GOC Sir Hew Pike and Royal Ulster Constabulary Deputy Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn again today to discuss the security situation, insisted he had made the right decision to have Adair re-arrested - but that the loyalist ceasefire had not broken down.

There are fears of a backlash on the Shankill after Adair's re-arrest but a Northern Ireland Office spokeswoman said Mr Mandelson had a full report of the operation and praised the police and Army for the calm and professional way in which they acted.

? Police are questioning a man about the loyalist paramilitary feud murders of Bobby Mahood and Jackie Coulter, who were gunned down by the Ulster Volunteer Force as they sat in a Ranger Rover Discovery outside a bookmaker's shop on the city's Crumlin Road on Monday.

The RUC said the suspect was detained in west Belfast yesterday. Six other men are also being questioned by detectives investigating arms finds. A total of eight guns were recovered in the Shankill Road and Lisburn Road areas in the aftermath of the double murder.

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