Belfast High Court has ordered that checks on agri-food trade from Britain to Northern Ireland must continue pending the result of a judicial review.

Earlier this week, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots instructed officials in his department to stop all checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland.

Speaking at Stormont, Mr Poots said he had received legal advice, which stated that he could order a halt to Northern Ireland Protocol checks.

Civil servants have yet to implement the instruction, pending legal clarity on their obligations, and checks are continuing.

This morning, Belfast's High Court ordered that the checks must continue pending the result of a judicial review to be heard next month.

The development came as a Sinn Féin member granted anonymity, and a second applicant named Edward Rooney were both granted leave to seek a judicial review of Mr Poot's decision.

The cases involve a claim that the Minister is frustrating a statutory purpose.

According to those behind the challenge, the Executive has already dealt with the issue by allocating implementation of the Irish Sea border checks to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

They contend that the step taken by Mr Poots was so significant and controversial that it required full Executive consent.

At a preliminary hearing yesterday a Departmental Solicitor's Office confirmed the instructions would not be acted on before noon on Monday.

But in court this morning counsel representing Mr Poots, Aidan Sands, said: "The Minister has looked at the matter, he is not prepared to give an undertaking in the meantime.

"The Department’s position is that the decision taken, and instructions given to officials, were entirely lawful."

Following those submissions Mr Justice Colton ruled that an arguable case has been established in both actions.

Listing the challenges for full hearing next month, the judge also agreed to grant interim relief aimed at "holding the ring" to ensure the checks continue.

Mr Justice Colton said: "There shouldn’t be any doubt or confusion hanging over those civil servants who have to comply with the law.

"I propose to make an order, suspending the order or instruction given by the Minister for Agriculture until further order of this court or completion of these proceedings."