KRW LAW LLP represents the family of Sean Dalton, killed in the Good Samaritan Bombing in Derry on 31 August 1988.


Following a successful application for permission to appeal made by the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) have listed the case for a two-day hearing on 26 and 27 October 2022.


This appeal to the Supreme Court follows the judgment of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal. That court considered decision of the Attorney-General not to direct a fresh inquest into the death of Sean Dalton following a report of the Police Ombudsman (PO). The Attorney reasoned that:


“(T)here had been no evidence in the PO’s report which could go to the identification and/or punishment of those responsible for the bomb so as to make the holding of a further inquest advisable. He commented that Article 2 did not require proceedings to be held for the purposes of establishing historical truth.”


Article 2 ECHR protects the right to life and engaged positive investigatory procedural obligations should there be a breach of violation of that right due to state involvement by omission or commission.


Sean Dalton’s family challenged the decision of the Attorney by way of judicial review application. They claimed the Attorney had misdirected himself in concluding that the investigative obligation under Article 2 of the ECHR had been satisfied and that it could not be satisfied by a new inquest.


The trial judge dismissed the application. In his view what a new inquest might achieve vis a vis the perpetrators was entirely speculative and was a very frail basis for saying that the Attorney was entitled, let along obliged, to order an inquest. In his view there was no evidence of anything amounting to more than a claim of negligence on the part of the police. The trial judge was of the opinion that the Attorney’s decision was a lawful one.


The Court of Appeal concluded that the Attorney and the trial judge erred in this case. The key finding of the Court was that to date the Article 2 investigative obligation which was revived has not been satisfied. In these circumstances, the court allowed  the appeal.


The UKSC, in granting permission to appeal made by the Attorney, will now decide whether the Court of Appeal erred in law in its interpretation of the scope of the investigatory procedures demanded following a breach or violation of Article 2 ECHR.