“and every other right-thinking member of the Northern Ireland community..”

Some of the reaction to today’s judgement in the case against Sean Hoey – As recorded here and here and here and some of the families’ reaction here. Also worth noting is Mark Devenport’s impression of the police’s immediate reaction outside the courts. The judgement by Mr Justice Weir is available here.

[65] I am acutely aware that the stricken people of Omagh and every other right-thinking member of the Northern Ireland community would very much wish to see whoever was responsible for the outrageous events of August 1998 and the other serious crimes in this series of terrorist incidents convicted and punished for their crimes according to law. But I also bear firmly in mind the cardinal principle of the criminal law which, in delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal in R. v Steenson and others [1986] NIJB17 at page 36, Lord Lowry LCJ re-emphasised in his concluding observations:

“Justice ‘according to law’ demands proper evidence. By that we mean not merely evidence which might be true and to a considerable extent probably is true, but, as the learned trial judge put it, “evidence which is so convincing in truth and manifestly reliable that it reaches the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

The evidence against the accused in this case did not reach that immutable standard. Accordingly I find Mr Hoey not guilty on each of the remaining counts on the indictment.

It’s also worth noting, in particular, the response from Victor Barker – as noted here.

English lawyer Victor Barker, whose son, James, died in the attack, said: “It is the appalling inefficiency of Sir Ronnie Flanagan that has meant Chief Superintendent Baxter has not been able to secure a conviction.”

He said the initial investigation by Sir Ronnie had been deeply flawed.

Mr Barker added: “He said he would fall on his sword if anything was wrong with this investigation — I will give him the sword.”

Mr Barker, who attended the court with his wife and 13-year-old son, Oliver, said they were “very disappointed” at the judge’s decision which had to be based on the evidence put before him.

But he added: “It is my view and the view of my family that Sean Hoey was one of the conspirators involved in the Omagh bomb — we can’t prove it.”

He said that, as a lawyer, he accepted the legal system was there to protect the human rights of people such as Sean Hoey and he had to stand by it.

“It is only a great shame that my son and the 29 people who died in Omagh has no human rights at all.”