Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 11:58 UK

Judge orders Hamill terms rethink

Robert Hamill
Robert Hamill was beaten to death

A judge has asked the NI Secretary to reconsider his decision not to extend the terms of an inquiry into the murder of a Portadown man 11 years ago.

Robert Hamill, 25, was beaten to death by loyalists in the town in 1997. No-one was convicted of the killing.

His family wanted the inquiry to hear evidence from the Director of Public Prosecutions, but this was refused by Shaun Woodward in March.

The judge said that decision had been made by applying the wrong test.

Mr Justice Weatherup said he was satisfied Mr Woodward had not determined the matter by reference to public interest but by the test of exceptional circumstances.

"Therefore I propose to refer this matter back to the secretary of state to reach a determination in accordance with the statutory test of public interest," he said.

Outside the court, Barra McGrory, QC, who acts for the Hamill family, said: "They are delighted that the matter has been referred back and expect the secretary of state to give careful consideration to the view of the court that far too high a test was applied in reaching the decision not to extend the terms of reference."

The Hamill inquiry opened three years ago but the first of the oral evidence has yet to start. Full hearings are not expected to begin before September.

Murdered man's family win review
11 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland
New legal move on Hamill inquiry
31 Jul 07 |  Northern Ireland
Hamill murder inquiry adjourned
24 May 05 |  Northern Ireland

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