Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Loyalist Jackie Mahood loses taxi firm compensation bid

Jackie Mahood
Jackie Mahood, pictured in 2001

A former loyalist prisoner whose taxi firm was destroyed by paramilitaries has lost a legal challenge against being refused compensation.

Jackie Mahood had sought up to £400,000 for repeated attacks which forced the closure of the north Belfast depot.

He launched a challenge after the secretary of state ruled it was not in the public interest to make an award.

He was turned down because of a 14-year sentence for terrorism offences he was given in 1975.

During the case, it emerged that a senior official within the Northern Ireland Office was asked to "sound out" Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who made representations on behalf of Mr Mahood, about his views on a possible payment of £40,000.

It was stressed however by Chris McCabe, then working with the NIO's political affairs section, that the secretary of state had not made up his mind about any pay-out.


Following the meeting in 2008, Mr Donaldson texted Mr McCabe back to say Mr Mahood was not interested in receiving £40,000.

The 55-year-old ran a successful taxi business in the north Belfast area before staff began to receive death threats and 24 cars were attacked.

Paramilitary gangs attempting to muscle in on his business were blamed for the intimidation campaign which wrecked the firm.

However, Mr Mahood was refused a discretionary payment under the criminal damage compensation scheme because of convictions for possession of a firearm and wounding with intent following a gun attack on a pub.

The court heard that following his release he became heavily involved in peace work, including a role on the Loyalist Commission which negotiated a truce between rival paramilitary factions.

A number of prominent unionist politicians were said to have lobbied for compensation on Mr Mahood's behalf.

His legal challenge centred on a claim that the secretary of state decision was irrational because an offer of a reduced payment was by made Mr McCabe.

But dismissing the application for a judicial review, Mr Justice Weatherup ruled that no offer, of £40,000 or another amount, was made.

The judge held that in the final analysis, Mr Woodward was not convinced to make a payment.

He said: "The Compensation Agency view prevailed that despite the applicant's contribution to the peace process, the seriousness of his terrorist convictions meant that the secretary of state considered that it was not in the public interest that a payment should be made."

He said that "in conducting a sounding-out exercise" the secretary of state had not undermined his decision not to make the discretionary payment.

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