The High Court has cleared the way for the trial of Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane on charges connected to the 1983 kidnapping of supermarket boss Don Tidey.

Mr McFarlane, 52, of Jamaica Street in Belfast, challenged the proceedings on the grounds that a delay on the part of the State in providing a hearing and determination of the criminal proceedings within a reasonable time had exposed him to the risk of an unfair trial.

But this morning Mr Justice Quirke found that Mr McFarlane had not established that culpable or blameworthy delay within the State's court process had affected or interfered with any rights enjoyed by Mr McFarlane.

He also found that if there had been a culpable or blameworthy delay on the part of the prosecuting authorities, that delay was not of a kind which would warrant prohibition of Mr McFarlane's trial.

Justice Quirke also found that any increased levels of stress, anxiety or inconvenience caused to Mr McFarlane by the delay did not outweigh the community's interest in having the alleged offences prosecuted to a conclusion.