17/01/2003

Adair granted leave for review of jail decision

Notorious loyalist Johnny Adair’s legal bid to overturn an order by the Secretary of State sending him back to prison passed its first hurdle in the Belfast High Court today.

After hearing legal argument, Mr Justice Kerr ruled that Adair could apply for a judicial review of Mr Murphy's decision. And while Adair was not in court to hear the ruling, his close associate, and former UDP representative, John White said: "All he wants is an opportunity to defend the allegation made against him."

The case had been scheduled for Monday, but was delayed when Adair’s lawyer, Frank O’Donoghue QC applied for the adjournment of Adair’s application for a writ of Habeas Corpus.

Adair claims his return to prison and continued detention is unjust and contrary to law as well as being in breach of his human rights.

Last week, Secretary of State Paul Murphy revoked Adair’s licence on police advice and he can now be held in Maghaberry jail until 2005.

Adair was released last March having served 50% of his sentence. However on 10 January, Mr Murphy said he was satisfied that Adair was a “danger to others and while he was at liberty was likely to commit further offences”.

The move to return him was prompted by the escalating feud within the UDA over the expulsion of long-time members John White and Adair.

That feud has seen three murders in recent weeks, including that of 22-year-old Jonathan Stewart was shot dead on Boxing Day while at a party in Manor Street in north Belfast. A lone hooded gunman burst into the house and singled out Mr Stewart and shot him in the back of the head.

Detectives believe Mr Stewart was shot because he was the nephew of an opponent of Johnny Adair.

Days after the killing, Roy Green, a convicted drug dealer and a senior figure within the ranks of the UDA – and close associate of Adair – was shot dead outside a pub in south Belfast.

(AMcE)

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