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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
'Hand over shoot-to-kill reports'
The three men were shot dead at a checkpoint by police in 1982
Three IRA men were shot dead at a checkpoint by police in Lurgan in 1982
Controversial reports into alleged "shoot-to-kill" deaths should be released by the chief constable, a senior coroner has said.

John Leckey has formally requested that Sir Hugh Orde hand over the Stalker and Sampson reports into security force killings for the inquests to proceed.

He was speaking at a preliminary inquest into the deaths, which took place more than 25 years ago.

He said he could see no reason why the reports could not be released to him.

The inquests are into the November 1982 deaths of IRA men Sean Burns, Eugene Toman and Gervaise McKerr near Lurgan, County Armagh.

Police fired 109 bullets into the car they were travelling after they claimed it crashed through a checkpoint.

It later emerged the three were suspected of involvement in the killings of three RUC officers in a bomb a fortnight earlier and had been under observation.

'Repercussions of disclosure'

Mr Leckey also plans inquests into the death of Catholic teenager Michael Tighe, shot dead by police at a hay shed near Craigavon, County Armagh in November 1982, and suspected INLA men Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew, shot dead near Armagh in December 1982.

The coroner told Tuesday's hearing he was asking the legal representatives of the PSNI "to confirm that I, my team and Mr Stalker and his team will be provided with access to the Stalker Report and that I, my team and Sir Colin Sampson will be provided with access to the Sampson Report".

John Stalker
John Stalker was brought in to investigate

Following a recent High Court ruling on another alleged "shoot to kill" death, Mr Leckey said: "I see no reason why I should not now be provided with access to both reports."

A lawyer for the PSNI said Sir Hugh had yet to form an opinion on whether the reports could in fact be handed over.

He said "an investigation of the repercussions of disclosure" was being undertaken.

"The chief constable has not yet made a decision about the need for disclosure," he said.

The lawyer said he would be in a position by the start of December to advise Mr Leckey on a decision.

However, the coroner warned he would be likely to challenge a refusal through the High Court.

The government has always denied any "shoot-to-kill" policy existed and has resisted calls from families to look again at what happened.

Former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir John Stalker was brought in to investigate. He was later replaced by Colin Sampson, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police.

Fresh inquiry 'would be burden'
02 Feb 04 |  Northern Ireland
'Shoot to kill' claim re-examined
20 Jul 07 |  Northern Ireland

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