18/02/2003

Adair's legal challenge over jail decision fails

Notorious loyalist Johnny Adair has failed in his bid to reverse the Secretary of State's decision to send him back to jail.

At the High Court in Belfast today, Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell, denied Adair leave to seek a judicial review of Paul Murphy's decision – which he described as "fair". Adair, who was returned to Maghaberry Prison on January 10, was not in court to hear the ruling.

When Mr Murphy announced his decision to jail Adair last month, he said that he was "satisfied" the UDA C Company chief was a threat to public safety and that he was "likely to commit further offences".

Adair's lawyers had argued that his licence had been arbitrarily revoked without permitting Adair the opportunity to defend himself against the charges, nor had he been questioned by police over any terrorist-related activity.

The dismissal of Adair's challenge now means that he will serve out the rest of his original sentence, which will see him stay incarcerated until January 2005. In 1996, Adair was sentenced to 16 years for directing terrorism. He was released under licence as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000.

Adair had previously been returned to prison for breaching licence conditions in August 2000. On May 15 2002, he was released having reached the 50 per cent point of his sentence.

This is latest blow for Johnny Adair who has seen his C Company faction decimated by mass defections to the mainstream UDA as a result of the loyalist feud. His wife and their children were also exiled to Scotland, along with his close associate John White and a number of his most loyal supporters, following C Company's murder of leading loyalist John Gregg.

There have also been a number of articles in Sunday newspapers about his personal life which have undermined his reputation within loyalism. Not least the allegations last Sunday that Adair had been visited by MI5 officers in jail and that he had been working as an informer for the security forces.

(GMcG)

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