A report which found there was no evidence of investigative bias by police in relation to a notorious Belfast bar bombing during the Troubles has been quashed by the High Court.

Fifteen people were killed in the blast at McGurk's Bar in December 1971.

The bombing was carried out by the UVF but at the time security forces blamed the IRA, prompting speculation that the dead might have included IRA members who were carrying the device.

The 2014 findings of the now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team's (HET) report that there was no evidence of investigative bias by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were irrational, a judge at the High Court in Belfast ruled today.

The HET finding came after a 2011 Police Ombudsman report into the bombing concluded that an investigative bias on the part of the RUC led to the failure to properly examine evidence and intelligence attributing the bombing to loyalist paramilitaries.

The ombudsman report's finding, which said the bias undermined both the investigation and any confidence the bereaved families had in obtaining justice, was rejected at the time by the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Bridget Irvine, who lost her mother in the bombing, brought a judicial review in 2015 to quash the HET report, saying the finding of no bias had been irrational and contrary to the weight of the evidence.

While in 2016 the then assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton issued a statement accepting the ombudsman's findings, including that of investigative bias, and said the PSNI had redrafted the original HET report to reflect that position, Ms Irvine called for the whole report to be quashed rather than amended.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Humphreys said the PSNI's statement had left no doubt that the HET report's findings regarding investigative bias were "wholly ill-founded, unsustainable and illogical".

But he said "mere excision" of that part of the HET report was not enough and ordered it to be quashed entirely.

He said: "Having carefully considered the competing positions, and recognising that there is much in the HET report which is uncontroversial, I have nonetheless concluded that the proportionate and efficacious remedy is for the court to quash the HET report in its entirety.

"The findings in relation to investigative bias are infected by irrationality and it is not possible to remedy this legal wrong by mere excision.

"To do so would cause the HET report to fail to meet its stated objectives and, in particular, render it incapable of addressing a key issue as far as the applicant and the families of the victims are concerned."