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EDITIONS
 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 12:43 GMT
Adair challenge gets go ahead
Johnny Adair
Johnny Adair could be kept in prison until 2005
Loyalist leader Johnny Adair has cleared the first hurdle in his legal challenge to his being returned to prison.

He was granted leave to apply for a judicial review of Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy's decision to revoke his early release licence and send him back to Maghaberry jail a week ago.

Following Friday's hearing at the High Court in Belfast, Adair's associate, John White, said all he wanted was the opportunity to defend the allegations made against him by Mr Murphy.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy returned Adair to prison
The Northern Ireland secretary said Adair had been involved in a litany of terrorist crimes including directing terrorism, drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and the procurement and distribution of weapons.

He can be held in Maghaberry jail until 2005.

The Shankill Road loyalist was involved in a feud with other members of the Ulster Defence Association since he was expelled from the organisation along with John White several months ago.

Adair has claimed he is being detained unlawfully and his human rights are being breached.

His lawyer told the High Court the appointment by Mr Murphy of an independent commissioner to consider the case did not give it the necessary impartiality.

The solicitor opposing the application argued that the independent commissioner was an adequate safeguard in protecting Adair's human rights.

'Arguable case'

In granting leave for the case to proceed, Mr Justice Kerr emphasised that his decision must not be seen as an indicator of the final outcome.

He stressed that an applicant for leave to seek a judicial review had merely to raise an arguable case.

The case will be reconvened on Tuesday

It is the second time Adair has been returned to jail since his original early release.

He had previously been returned to prison for breaching licence conditions in August 2000 after being released from prison under the terms of the Agreement a year earlier.

On 15 May, 2002, he was released having reached the 50% point of his sentence.

The 39-year-old was sentenced in 1996 to 16 years imprisonment for directing terrorism by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

See also:

11 Jan 03 | N Ireland
10 Jan 03 | N Ireland
03 Jan 03 | N Ireland
28 Dec 02 | N Ireland
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