Joint Statement of KRW Law and the Pat Finucane Centre on Campbell Family Civil Action against the State
Family of Glenanne Gang Murder Victim Pat Campbell settle Legal Action
Today in Belfast High court Mr. Justice McAlinden was told that a long running legal action taken by the widow of murder victim Patrick Campbell was now resolved. Mrs Campbell had issued a High Court civil action against the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the MOD alleging collusion between the killers and State agencies.
On 29th October 1973 Mr. Campbell was murdered in Banbridge in front of his wife Margaret and their 3 children by Loyalist terrorist group The UVF. One of 2 killers, Robert (Robin) John Jackson firing 9 times into the hallway of the family home, shot him dead. Neither Jackson nor his accomplice were ever brought to justice. Significantly a week after the atrocity police recovered 79 rounds of ammunition at Jackson’s house. He was then arrested and put onto an Identification Parade where he was then picked out by Pats widow Margaret. RUC officers also recovered a notebook with entries including names, addresses and vehicle registration details all of which could only have come from UDR intelligence sources.
Yet incredibly all charges against Jackson were later dropped. His only punishment was court martial and expulsion from the UDR. Jackson was a leader of Mid Ulster UVF he went on to kill dozens more innocent people right through to the early 1990s. It remains one of the greatest injustices of the Conflict that this psychotic serial killer wasn’t put behind bars when there was a chance to do that. The police and military personnel bear responsibility for that. As we’ve seen so often in Troubles related legacy cases the State prioritized protecting a wider intelligence agenda over its obligation to prosecute killers.
Outside court today Pats daughter Donna Campbell said.
“On behalf of the family of my father Pat (Patrick) Campbell I would like to say that this day has been a long time coming. My daddy was killed on 29 October 1973. That evening changed the rest of our lives. My mum was left to bring-up three young children, we are immensely proud of her here today.
Unfortunately, she has had to fight throughout her whole life in an effort to get justice for the murder of her husband and our father and grandfather. She should not have had to do that. Within days if not hours those who murdered my dad were known to the police. My mum identified Robin Jackson as one of the men who she answered the door to. She had to go into the same room as him and identify him to the police, this was exceptionally traumatic for her, but she did it as she knew it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the bodies of the state that were then tasked to prosecute Jackson failed in their duty. They not only failed our family, but they failed the many families of his subsequent victims, and they failed this society.
This acknowledgement by the state today in the form of damages paid to our family is an acknowledgement of that failing and should be seen as an acknowledgement of that failing.
My mum can now rest easy knowing that she has done all she can to honor Dad’s memory and to hold the state to account.”
Pat’s widow Margaret Campbell said,
“I’ve fought nearly 50 years seeking justice for Pat. Fighting to get secret intelligence papers linking the man who killed my husband to the security forces was going to take a lot more time. It is time I don’t really have as I’m not getting any younger. What I do have is confidence that Jon Boutcher’s review into the terrorist activities of the Glennane Gang will deliver the sort of answers that my civil case couldn’t do, at this stage anyway. For these reasons I can rest easy knowing that I sued the British Government over the failed investigation into Pats murder and received a settlement. I don’t want to let this day go by without thanking Anne Cadwallader of The PFC whose incredible support gave me the strength to keep going. She can’t be here today at the court but importantly she was on the sitelink when the settlement was announced. “
Alan Brecknell of The Pat Finucane Centre who attended court to support the Campbell family added,
“There is something wrong with a society that forces the widow and children of Pat Campbell to have to take legal action against elements of that state to get some small level of satisfaction for the pain and hurt that was visited on the family late in the evening of Monday 29 October 1973 by then serving UDR member Robin Jackson (21 August 1973 to 4 March 1974) and other members of his UVF team.
On the night Jackson and his accomplice came to Margaret’s door they wore no masks nor any form of disguise, they were obviously confident that they would not be brought to justice for the murder of Pat.
Unfortunately even though Margaret was brave enough to enter the room that Jackson was in and identify him in the identity parade as the man who came to her door and killed her husband and that two police officers over-heard him say to himself “I am in trouble now because Mrs. Campbell would remember the color of every hair on the man’s head who had been at her door and shot her husband.”; the state conspired to ensure that Jackson didn’t stand trial for Pat’s murder.
Jackson’s name was known to the police within days of an ‘arms raid’ on a UDR Armory in Portadown on 23 October 1973. On the 24 October the farm of a former UDR member was searched and guns and ammunition were found. The owner of the farm named Jackson as one of those who had taken the guns and ammunition to the farm for storage.
Pat Campbell was killed 5 days later, why was Jackson not arrested during those 5 days? If he had of been, Pat may still be alive today.
Jackson’s name was to become infamous throughout the period of the troubles. Unfortunately, we will never know how many people he was responsible for killing, the figures range from 50 to over 100. What can be said is that if the state had done justice by the Campbell family many more families would not have suffered the loss of a loved one or suffered either physical or psychological injury at his hands.
It has long been suggested that Jackson was an agent of the state, some evidence of this emerged during the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) review of the Miami Showband attack. This attack killed three members of the band, injured two others and also resulted in the deaths of the attackers including one who was thought to have been at Margaret’s door with Jackson on the night he killed Pat.
The Miami HET report found that:
- The fingerprints of an infamous loyalist paramilitary, the Jackal, were found on the silencer of a gun used in the Miami Showband murders.
- There is no evidence that this information was passed to the Miami investigation team.
- The suspect was aware that his fingerprints had been found before his arrest.
- He claimed that a Detective Superintendent had tipped him off and advised him how to avoid arrest.
- There is no evidence that these serious allegations were ever thoroughly investigated by RUC HQ however a confidential internal RUC report stated that, if the allegation were true, it constituted a “grave breach of discipline and police confidentiality on the part of the officers concerned.”
The HET conclusion on this issue reads:
“To the objective, impartial observer, disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behavior are raised. The HET review has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and that is a deeply troubling matter.”
The Pat Finucane Centre has supported the Campbell family for over twenty years in their search for truth and justice for Pat’s murder and the pain, hurt and grieve that it inflicted on the family. No amount of money will ever compensate them for what they lost that night in 1973 but hopefully today’s settlement will bring some level of satisfaction that the state had to settle their claim rather than air the case in court.
It is unfortunate that the Campbell’s and many other families of those bereaved and injured are faced with having to take this type of case to get some sense of truth and justice. The current British Government proposals would close down all avenues for families to seek truth and justice. These proposals must be opposed by everyone who beliefs in democracy, truth and justice. They are morally and legally bankrupt and will do nothing to deal with the legacy of our troubled past.”
Speaking after court this morning solicitor Kevin Winters of KRW Law Conflict Litigation Dept said,
“We lodged this civil case almost 8 years ago and today thankfully it’s now finished. It has been a difficult and fraught legal journey for Margaret and her family. The case has now settled against the PSNI only. The decision to take the case in the first place wasn’t taken lightly. Equally the decision to end it today without going into a full court hearing engaged a lot of pragmatic thought.
It is important to put this civil action into its proper context. It’s not “a truth and justice recovery “process. On the face of it is a claim for compensation only and there’s neither an admission of liability nor a formal apology. However, this morning’s announcement on the payment of an undisclosed but significant settlement figure to the family does send out a clear message. To that end Margaret’s words at the start of this case resonate when she said “we hope this case brings some form of closure “. The Campbell family now have that and more. Their determination to see this through is commendable. I’ve no doubt it will be inspiring to other families of victims of The Glenanne Gang and all other Conflict bereaved “.