Damien McLaughlin: Man jailed on weapons offences wins right to challenge illegal legislation

A Co Tyrone man who served a prison term for weapons offences has won the legal right to challenge new powers aimed at cracking down on terrorist activity.

Damien McLaughlin was granted leave at the High Court to seek a judicial review of legislation police can use to obtain search warrants.

Lawyers for the 43-year-old claim his right to privacy is being breached by a regime which also means he must inform the authorities about any foreign travel arrangements.

In 2011 McLaughlin, from Kilmascally Road in Ardboe, received a four and a half year sentence for having rifles and possessing articles for use in terrorist purposes.

Seven years later he was cleared of separate charges linked to the November 2012 killing of prison officer David Black.

But at one stage, while on bail, McLaughlin went missing for nearly four months.

He was detained again in Co Donegal in March 2017, and extradited back to Northern Ireland for a trial which ultimately collapsed.

McLaughlin is now challenging the PSNI and the Home Secretary over provisions contained within the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.

His legal team contend that police can obtain a warrant to search property without having to show reasonable suspicion.

Issues have also been raised about a requirement to provide personal details and information on any planned trips.

The new regime is unfair and incompatible with McLaughlin’s human rights, it was claimed.

Counsel for the authorities under challenge, Neasa Murnaghan QC, insisted the powers were aimed at “frustrating” terrorism.

But following submissions Mr Justice McAlinden ruled that an arguable case had been established.

He granted leave to apply for a judicial review, with a full hearing listed for later 

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story 

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