'clear message' | 

Widow of murdered Catholic worker settles case over alleged UDR collusion with loyalist gunman

The lawsuit centred on the role played by UVF boss and serial killer Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson in the murder of Patrick Campbell

Margaret Campbell, whose husband was shot dead by loyalists in 1973, pictured in 2014 (PA).

Alan ErwinBelfast Telegraph

The elderly widow of a Catholic factory worker shot dead nearly 50 years ago has settled legal action over alleged security force collusion with the notorious loyalist gunman.

Margaret Campbell, 84, is to receive a “significant” undisclosed pay-out as part of the resolution in her civil claim against the PSNI.

The lawsuit centred on the role played by UVF boss and serial killer Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson in the murder of her husband Patrick Campbell in Banbridge, Co Down in October 1973.

With proceedings listed for hearing at the High Court in Belfast today, lawyers announced that a confidential settlement had been reached.

Mrs Campbell described the outcome as vindication in her half-century fight to secure justice for her late husband.

Patrick Campbell who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries.

She said outside court: “I can rest easy knowing that I sued the British Government over the failed investigation into Pat’s murder and received a settlement.”

Mr Campbell was gunned down in front of his wife and children at their family home in a sectarian murder for which no one has ever been convicted.

Jackson, a one-time Ulster Defence Regiment soldier and suspected RUC Special Branch agent, is widely believed to have been one of the two assassins.

Despite being arrested and charged, the case against him was subsequently dropped.

Jackson has been linked to more than 50 murders carried out by the so-called Glenanne Gang - a loyalist terror unit based in the Mid Ulster area during the 1970s.

Mr Campbell, a trade unionist and father-of-three, is thought to have been his first victim.

The two men worked together at a shoe factory in Banbridge and reportedly had a disagreement over the stopping of machinery following the deaths of three British soldiers.

A week after the shooting police recovered 79 rounds of ammunition at Jackson’s home.

He was then detained and put on an identity parade where Mrs Campbell singled him out as the gunman.

RUC officers also recovered a notebook with names, addresses and vehicle registration details all of which came from UDR intelligence sources, it is alleged.

Jackson, who died in 1998, was expelled from the UDR but never faced prosecution for Mr Campbell’s murder.

It is believed that he went on to carry out some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, including the 1975 Miami Showband massacre.

Mrs Campbell claimed that Jackson was unlawfully protected during his campaign of terror.

She sought damages for alleged police and military failings, including negligence and misfeasance in public office, in a case where a former RUC officer and two ex-military intelligence officers were set to give evidence about Jackson’s alleged role.

Ultimately, however, her action against the Chief Constable was resolved on confidential terms which involve no admission of liability.

Judgment was entered for the Ministry of Defence in the claim against it.

Congratulating the parties on settling the case, Mr Justice McAlinden said: “I can imagine no greater trauma than having to relive events in open court.

“I hope this brings closure to Mrs Campbell and her family.”

Later, the victim’s daughter, Donna Campbell, claimed the state failed in its duty to prosecute Jackson.

“They not only failed our family, but they failed the many families of his subsequent victims, and they failed this society,” she said.

“My mum can now rest easy knowing that she has done all she can to honour Dad’s memory and to hold the state to account.”

The family’s solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, described it as the end to a difficult and fraught eight-year legal journey.

“This morning’s announcement on the payment of an undisclosed but significant settlement figure to the family does send out a clear message,” he said.

“The Campbell family’s 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.”

In a statement, human rights body The Pat Finucane Centre added: No amount of money will ever compensate (the Campbell family) 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.”

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