Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

'2.50 to destroy a Wright file'

Billy Wright
Wright was shot dead by republican prisoner in December 1997

The prison service allegedly paid 2.50 for every file destroyed after the killing of leading loyalist Billy Wright, the High Court heard has heard.

It has been claimed that two people were instructed to get rid of thousands of documents following his death.

DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jnr says he was supplied the information by a prison officer who he refuses to identify.

His position is being challenged in the High Court by the public inquiry set up to probe the LVF leader's killing.

The 37-year-old was shot dead shot by republican prisoners in the Maze prison in December 1997.

Lawyers for the tribunal chaired by Lord MacLean are seeking to compel Mr Paisley to co-operate with its requests for the officer's name.

During a discovery application ahead of next month's full hearing, Mr Justice Gillen explored some of the allegations made in a statement by Mr Paisley.

The judge said: "He says 'I have received information from a serving prison officer regarding details of a file destruction policy within the Prison Service.

"'Two people were employed to carry out this and paid 2.50 per file destroyed'."

The difficulty is we don't know who the person was Mr Paisley spoke to
John Larkin QC

Responding to the claims, John Larkin QC, for the Inquiry, said: "The difficulty is we don't know who the person was Mr Paisley spoke to."

The North Antrim MLA has so far insisted he will not identify the man who gave him the information which he then passed on to David Wright, father of the murdered loyalist.

Mr Paisley said he was told the alleged policy was an emergency due to data protection legislation.

It was suggested that up to 5,600 files were destroyed shortly after Wright was shot dead by republican prisoners.

Mr Paisley said details were given to him in confidence by a senior prison officer who approached him while he was still a Junior Minister at Stormont.

With the information regarded as relevant to the public inquiry into claims of security force collusion in the killing, he decided the most appropriate action was to pass it on to David Wright.

The High Court application, brought under Section 36 of the Inquiries Act which deals with enforcement issues, is believed to be the first of its kind to be made in the UK.

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