” We are surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court but nevertheless bound by its ruling ” - Peter Murphy.
LURGAN Republican Martin Corey has been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the refusal to allow his defence team access to ‘closed intelligence’ used to keep him behind bars for the past three years.
The 63-year-old has been held in Maghaberry Prison since 2010 after his life licence was revoked by the then Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, on the basis of “closed material”. His defence team, led by solicitor Peter Murphy, have argued that they are prevented from defending against allegations that he is a danger to public safety because three successive secretaries of state have refused to disclose “confidential intelligence”. The lawyer says they will consider taking a human rights case to the European court at Strasbourg. Corey, who served a life sentence for the joint-enterprise murder of two members of the RUC in 1973, was released from prison on licence in 1992. In April 2010, when he was working as a grave digger, he was arrested and his licence was revoked. In 2011 he was refused parole.
During a High Court appeal in July 2012 Mr Justice Treacy found that the Parole Commissioners had acted in breach of the Lurgan man’s human Rights and that insufficient detail about the allegations had been provided to him. The judge ruled that Corey should be released on bail immediately but this decision was overturned within hours by then secretaty of state, Owen Paterson. Yesterday Mr Murphy said : “We harbour the greatest concerns about the authenticity and strength of these allegations that have seen Mr Corey, deprived of his liberty for over three years. “In short, we see this as internment 2013 and if there is any real confidence on the part of the secretary of state [Theresa Villiers] that only one of these allegations is true, then we would challenge those responsible for having Mr Corey incarcersted to initiate a proper investigation and if needs be charge Mr Corey. “We are surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court but are nevertheless bound by it’s ruling. “We will now however be seeking to have our client’s basic human rights and specifically the right to challenge the ongoing deprivation of his liberty, vindicated by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg”. Jim Mcllmurry, who acts as a spokesman for Corey, said : “Martin has come to expect little, and often less, when it comes to the justice system in the North of Ireland. “Our attendence at the Supreme Court in London would have given us the opportunity to expose many aspects of this case which I feel would not be found acceptable in any English court. “He has served what amounts to a six-year sentence without ever being questioned, charged or sentenced.”
With many thanks to : Allison Morris, Irish News.
- Dissident Ex-prisoner Has Release License Revoked (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Message From Martin Corey – Maghaberry Prison (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
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Below I have posted an update on Martin Corey which explains the events of yesterday. Martin has once more been denied basic human rights through a corrupt system led by the Sec of State, Teresa Villiers and the British Government. Everything his legal Representatives try, to reach some sort of conclusion on Martin’s Administrative Detention is being thwarted. He has served a 6 year sentence to date with no charges leveled against him. This news is “Soul destroying” for Marin and his family. Please read and share.
Latest update on Martin Corey from his friend Jim McIlmurray.
This devastating news came without warning. Martin’s legal team has spent months building his case with such strong conviction that I feel it would have ensured his immediate release under the European Convention on Human Rights.
In July 2012, a Belfast High Court judge ordered Martin’s immediate release, which was overturned within hours by the then unelected Secretary of State, Owen Patterson.
This decision was challenged in the High Court and the case concluded unsuccessfully in December 2012 with the three-man panel of judges upholding the directive of Owen Patterson. At that stage, an application was made to appeal the High Court’s decision in the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court in London.
I spoke with Martin this evening and informed him of the news. Martin has come to expect little, and often accept less, when it comes to the justice system in the North of Ireland.
Our attendance at the Supreme Court in London would have given us the opportunity to expose many aspects of this case which I feel would not be found acceptable in any English court. The fact that the Secretary of State could hand out directives, dismissing decisions by High Court judges, would have been highlighted in the Supreme Court in London, exposing the fact that politicians in the north of Ireland rule the judiciary. The biggest disappointment has to be the fact that had we not received justice in the Supreme Court in London, we would have had the opening to bring Martin’s case to the European Court of Human rights. This is an avenue we can still explore, but without having exhausted every domestic court in the country due to our denial to attend the Supreme Court, it will be somewhat harder to achieve a hearing within a realistic timescale.
Martin has now been in Maghaberry Prison for over three years. The course of the law states, as I understand it, if you have committed a crime, you are: questioned, charged, tried in court, sentenced, and then imprisoned. Within the past three years, Martin has NEVER been questioned, charged, or sentenced. He has served what amounts to a SIX YEAR sentence.
We are currently awaiting a confirmed date for a parole hearing. Martin is entitled to an annual Parole Board Review. In February of this year the European Court of Human Rights stated that 13 months was an unacceptable period of time for a prisoner to wait for a parole hearing. Martin has now waited 19 MONTHS WITHOUT A PAROLE REVIEW.
Today’s announcement of the High Court ruling has been a bitter blow to the campaign for his release, but it will not undermine my determination in seeking his release. If anything, it will harden my resolve for justice.
We need to expose this continuing tyranny. British government officials are quick enough to state that the world’s worst human rights abusers are Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan. Over the past three years I have witnessed first hand everything these officials have done to Martin and I feel the British government is making a mockery of truth by not including its own name on the list above.
Inmate was on remand during death bid !
A PRISONER was granted bail as he fought for his life in a Belfast hospital after an attempted suicide in jail, we can reveal. But the bizarre circumstances mean the Northern Ireland Prison Service do not have to record Joseph Rainey‘s death as a ‘ death in custody ‘.
Once again, however, the Prisoner Ombuinye will be called in to investigate the tragic circumstances at the controversy-hit Hydebank Wood Prison in South Belfast. And it’s the first major headache for new Governor Paul Norbury who only took up he new post at Hydebank two weeks ago. The jail has been dogged with scandals and there have been a number of inmates who have died at the prison which caters for young offenders as well as women.
Last year the Governor Paul Alcock was suspended after inmates Frances McKeown and Samuel Carson took their own lives within hours of each other.The latest tragedy came as Joseph Patrick Thomas Rainey was in Hydebank Wood and Young Offenders ‘ Centre on remand awaiting trial for an attempted burglary charge. The 20-year-old, from Oldpark Avenue, North Belast, tried to hang himself in the prison’s Beech House but was cut down by prison officers. After 10 days on a life support machine, he passed away on April 19. The Sunday World has now learned that in an extraordinary twist, Rainey was granted bail in court – as he fought for his life in hospital a week after he tried to commit suicide. His case was listed for April 17 at Belfast Magistrates Court where he was officially remanded on bail and then last Wednesday, April 24, the charge was officially withdrawn – after he had died. On Saturday night the Prison Service said it ‘accepted’ that his death was not a ‘death in custody’ because he had been granted bail – even ‘though the event which led to his death occurred behind bars. And they confirmed the Prisoner Omdudsman, Pauline McCabe, would be investigating.
Part of that investigation will centre around the fact that Joseph Rainey was deemed to be a Supporting Prisoner At Risk (SPAR) by the Nortern Ireland Prison Service. But despite prison chiefs recognising he was a potential danger to himself they decided not to place him in a specially designed cell for such inmates. Prison sources have said the Prison Service could be let off the hook bencause of the technicality. “Incredibly they are not treating this as a ‘death in custody’ because Rainey got bail before he died,” says a source. “but it’s yet another embarrassing case for them to deal with. The new Governor had barely taken his coat off and he has now had this chucked on his lap. “It’s not a great start but the incident happened before he officially started in the job.” A spokesman from the Prison Service said on Saturday night : “As Mr Rainey was bailed prior to his death it is accepted that this is not a ‘death in custody’ but as the cause of death is directly attibutable to his time in custody, his death will be the subject of a Prisoner Ombudsman investigation in line with her terms of reference.” Paul Norbury was appointed governor of Hydebank Wood in February 10 months after his predecessor was suspended following allegations of misconduct.
It emerged rather surprisingly, that Mr Norbury was the only candidate who applied for the job which comes with a salary of £72,000. Mr Norbury has been a prison governer elsewhere since 1982, with his most recent role in Wymott Prison in Leyland, Lancashire. An interim governor has been running Hydebank Wood since Gary Alcok was suspended in May last year. He was suspended after a report into the circumstances surronding two young inmates who took their own lives within three hours of each other in May 2011. Both prisoners, Frances McKeown and Samuel Carson, had been subjected to bullying inside the jail. The suspension, after an interim report carried out by Ombudsman Ms. McCabe sent shockwaves through the Prison Service as it was the first time a jail Governor had been suspended from his post in over 140 years. In August Mr Alcock was charged with misconduct after a recommendation by an independant team from the Scottish Prison Service who were asked to carry out an investigation.
With many thanks to : Steven Moore, Sunday World.
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A WOMEN has come out of retirement to become the new director – general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Sue McAllister ( 51 ), from South Yorkshire, will take up her £100,000-a-year job on July 3rd.
New director general of the Northern Ireland Prison service Sue McAllister with Justice Minister David Ford
She has been chosen to press ahead with major changes to a regime that costs £140 million a year to run. ” I do not underestimate the scale of the reform programme that will be delivered over the next few years, one of the most challenging undertaken by the public sector anywhere in the United Kingdom,” she said yesterday. ” I am confident that I can lead the prison service through this change programme and with the support of colleagues, the department and the minister, create a service with offender rehabilitation at its core which plays it’s part in building safer communities across Northern Ireland.”
Mrs McAllister has 25 years experience in the prison service, including working as a governor at HMP Gartree and Onley young offenders centre. Her previous job was as head of the Public-Sector Bids Unit in the Ministry of Justice before she took early retirement in August last year. She will arrive in Belfast following an agreement between the Prison Officers Association on new working arrangements – a significant element of the reform programme which also involves plans to reduce staffing levels and cut the prison budget by £16m over the next four years. The first of 200 newly recruited custody officers are expected to begin duties later this year.
Mrs McAllister has been in the north before as part of a team that reviewed arrangements at MAGHABERRY following the suicide of a life sentence prisoner who was found hanged at his fourth attempt to take his life. She is married with two grown-up childeren and replaces Colin McConnell who left after 16 months to become head of the Scottish Prison Service. Justice minister David Ford said she was joining the service at a crucial stage. ” A number of key milestones have been reached, including the successful launch of the exit scheme with over 150 staff leaving the service, a recruitment competition under way for new custody officers and an aggreement with the POA on new working practices,” Mr Ford said. ” This is only the start of the reform programme and it is important to maintain the momentum for change that has been established. ” Sue brings a wealth of experience to this demanding post and I know that she is committed to driving forward the change agenda.”
- First woman prison service boss (bbc.co.uk)
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I have received another email from Maureen re the issue of Maghaberry and Marian. She brought it back to the tanaiste here is her email.
Mary; I have below the latest reply on a Parliamentary Question I put in about human rights conditions of prisoners in Maghaberry and Hydepark. Best wishes, Maureen.
102. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he and his Department have taken, and are taking, in addressing the human rights conditions of prisoners in Maghaberry Prison, County Antrim, including the human rights of the prisoner who has been moved to Hydebank Prison. [25423/12]
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The issue of prisons within Northern Ireland is a devolved matter related to the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Arising from the Hillsborough Agreement of February 2010, Dame Ann Owers and the prison review team undertook a review of the prison system. In October 2011 their report made 40 recommendations on prison reform in Northern Ireland. The Minister for Justice, Mr. David Ford, MLA, has underlined his commitment to full implementation of the recommendations and has described the prison reform process as “unstoppable”. I had an opportunity to discuss the reform process with him at our most recent meeting on 20 April.
Implementation of the Owers report remains the most effective way to ensure that prison conditions in Northern Ireland meet the required standard. The Government will continue to raise concerns regarding the circumstances of conditions of detention of Irish citizens as appropriate.
Concerns have been raised about the circumstances of this prisoner’s detention, both in this House and directly with me by human rights organisations. The prisoner’s defence team maintain that as she was granted a royal prerogative of mercy, the terms of the licence do not apply. I discussed this issue with Secretary of State Paterson on 27 April. I have been advised that the parole commissioners considered the terms of the royal prerogative of mercy after receiving submissions on behalf of the prisoner and the Secretary of State and had ruled that “the life sentences were not in fact remitted by the royal prerogative of mercy” and that the prisoner “remains subject to the life licence”. I understand that the case is currently under review.
Concerns surrounding the prisoner’s health led to the prisoner being moved to the medical wing of Hydebank Prison where I have been informed that medical and prison administration staff are making every effort to make the prisoner comfortable. I have been advised that a medical expert has requested an assessment visit and I have asked to be informed on the outcome of that visit. In the meantime my officials are in regular contact with the authorities in Northern Ireland, human rights NGOs and others close to this case.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: The Tánaiste’s answer might have been acceptable except for the fact that these issues have been ongoing for some time.
They have been kicked to touch or from one person to another for far too long. In the meantime, the human rights issues have worsened, with solitary confinement, the denial of medical treatment, inadequate medical treatment and regular full body searches although scanners are supposed to be used. Elected representatives, human rights organisations and the Pat Finucane Centre have not received responses to their inquiries from the authorities in the North. Human rights regulations are being disregarded.
In January in response to a question I asked, the Minister for Justice and Equality stated the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade had been involved in negotiations the previous summer. This has been going on for almost a year and in the meantime the conditions for some of the prisoners have deteriorated. What other action can be taken? Action is required instead of phrases such as “we will continue to monitor it” and “we are in close consultation” before one of the prisoners dies.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: As I stated, responsibility for prisons in Northern Ireland has been devolved to the Department of Justice under the remit of the Minister, Mr. Ford, MLA. Among the issues which arise is reform of the prison service in Northern Ireland. The Minister categorically stated to us he is implementing the recommendation of the Owers report and the process is unstoppable. We have raised the issues of human rights and the conditions of the prisoners in Maghaberry Prison, in particular the prisoner moved to Highbank Prison, with the Minister and the Secretary of State, Mr Paterson, MP. I have asked departmental officials to monitor the situation very closely and keep in touch with the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Justice there and we will continue to do so.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: The denial of medical treatment and the way in which medication has been withheld from one of the male prisoners are very serious issues. I am also aware of issues regarding the health of Marian Price. When is a royal prerogative not a royal prerogative? Is it when it suits the authorities in the North and in England? Mr. Owen Paterson, MP, has not been elected by anyone in the North and is not accountable to the electorate in the North, but he seems to be able to disregard human rights legislation and legal issues. We speak about human rights at meetings of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and we take up the cases of prisoners in Bahrain, Iran and China. Yet, this is happening up the road and is an urgent matter because one of the prisoners will die.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Responsibility for prisons has been devolved to the Northern Ireland Administration under the aegis of the Department of Justice. With regard to the royal prerogative, three sentences were handed down to Marian Price; she was sentenced to two life sentences and one sentence of 20 years. My information is that the royal prerogative applied to the 20 year sentence and the life sentences were covered by a life licence which may be withdrawn, which is what happened in this case. I share the Deputy’s immediate concern about Ms Price’s medical condition and health and about the conditions under which she and other prisoners are detained. I wish to make clear we have raised these issues with the Northern Ireland Department of Justice and the Secretary of State and we will continue to do so at political and official level.
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Mary Mcclure
- Report on MagHaberry for UNHRW (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Statement from the Family & Friends of Republican prisoners, Maghaberry. 19th May 2012 (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- The growth of secret ‘evidence’ and the case of Marian Price (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- David Ford ‘actively’ pursuing alternatives to prison strip-searching (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Life as a protesting republican prisoner in Maghaberry (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
It’s worth taking a closer look at the Peter Hain contempt case before it’s written off as a straightforward free speech victory for the metropolitan Mr Punch over the paddywhackery of Northern Ireland’s appointed and politically independent Attorney General. John Larkin QC brought the case against the former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain on the admittedly antiquated grounds of “scandalising the court, “after Hain had made extraordinary remarks in his autobiography about the then Northern Ireland High Court Judge Paul Girvan. We’ll come to those remarks shortly.
Our story begins in 2006, when the judge found (link repaired) that Hain’s appointment of a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) nominated Victims Commissioner had probably broken a whole battery of rules including the ministerial code and the duty of candour to the court, when two of the province’s most senior civil servants, the political director of the NIO and the head of the NI civil service, failed to give a convincing account of how she was appointed. In Northern Ireland, public employment laws are especially strict under the Good Friday Agreement to ensure equal treatment of unionists and nationalists. And in no case more so, one would have thought, over the appointment of a post entitled “Victims Commissioner,” when the concept of victim can mean fundamentally different things to different people. The importance of the integrity of civil servants put into bat for their minister hardly needs stating beyond adding that it is an especially prized quality in a region where politics have for so long been so bloody and divisive and civil servants to a great extent have held the ring.
On the facts of the appointment, there was not really any argument from day one, in or out of court. Girvan had Hain bang to rights, although he allowed the commissioner to keep her job. Nationalists were sure to object and so they did, politically and through judicial review. The judge dismissed Hain’s contention that he had a higher purpose, namely the success of the peace process at a critical juncture and he condemned the Secretary of State‘s (rather post hoc?) invocation of the royal prerogative in making the appointment, when detailed legislation regulated such matters. Two could play at invoking an old standby, it seems. According to Judge Girvan, an important constitutional principle was also at stake if courts could not rely on civil servants’ “candour” about how the blameless victims commissioner Bertha McDougall had been appointed. (A quick chat with each of them separately was all that happened, it emerged). Girvan spelt out the abuse of process in relentless detail and this – I speculate – greatly embarrassed Hain. In a follow up judgment Girvan instanced 67 questions he wanted answered about how the appointment was made.
What also seems to have incurred Hain’s wrath was the judge’s dismissal of his point of extenuation, that the appointment was made to keep the DUP sweet at an important stage of negotiations, as the British government nudged them towards re-forming the Northern Ireland Executive with their arch opponents on the nationalist side, Sinn Fein. But such a one-sided appointment was always bound to create a distracting controversy. How Hain could have thought otherwise is a mystery.
But in the end as all the world knows, the political efforts of Peter Hain and many others were crowned with political success. In the end too, no fewer than four Victims Commissioners were appointed.
So what was it that Hain wrote about the judge six years later?
Mr Hain said that he “thought the judge off his rocker” and claimed that the then attorney general, Charlie Faulkner, privately agreed with him. He also accused the judge of “high-handed and idiosyncratic behaviour”.
And Mr Hain even said he had wondered whether the judge’s legal opinion had been motivated by displeasure at some of Mr Hain’s tax policies.
“I did wonder whether some history explained the eccentricity of the judge, or even whether in common with other high earners he had been unhappy about my reforms of the property tax system…”
Although Mr Hain eventually endorsed a recommendation to promote Sir Paul to Northern Ireland’s Appeal Court in 2007, he said in the book thathe had considered blocking the appointment because Sir Paul had been “going out of his way legally to damage me”.
Consider the two statements I’ve highlighted. The first speculates grossly if weirdly that the judge who presumably lives in a quite a large house, might have resented Hain’s attempts to put up NI domestic rates and might have allowed such resentment to affect his judgment.
The second toys with the idea that Hain might have withheld ministerial approval of Girvan’s promotion as an Appeal Court judge, on the basis as far as I can make out, of the NI Secretary’s inheritance of a prerogative power of the long defunct office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ( another antique device, you’ll have noticed.).
“Off his rocker” might be written off as vulgar abuse but the comments highlighted packed a bigger and more precise punch. Whether they amounted to defamation or contempt is a matter of expert legal opinion which will not now be put to the test. But coming from a former Northern Ireland Secretary, they were undoubtedly damaging. In short, the office Hain had held seems to have been crucial to the legal action.
Consider next Northern Ireland today. This is a political system still bedding down after 30 years of the Troubles and at least 90 years without cross community consensus. Power sharing devolution stabilised only in 2007 and justice powers were transferred from Westminster even later, two years ago. The system is dominated by the two parties on the edge of the two political traditions, both of which in different ways had bones to pick with the criminal justice system.
The rather remarkable fact is that today, both political extremes have expressed broad confidence in the judiciary. In turn however, the judiciary still harbours doubts whether politicians new to government fully understand the subtleties of judicial independence. And the judges have a lurking fear that the historic militancy of either DUP and Sinn Fein or both could resurface to attack judicial decisions they might not like. The Chief Justice has already written to the First Minister Peter Robinson to complain about comments by two of his party’s ministers that sailed close to the wind.
Peter Hain’s autobiographical effusion broke into this delicate atmosphere, provoking the Chief Justice to make a rare public statement:
The judge (Girvan) identified a number of serious questions in respect of the challenged decision-making process and the way in which evidence had been produced to the court in response to the challenge…
“The comments impact not just on a single judge but are potentially an assault on the wider independence of the judiciary which is a principle underpinning our democracy.
“There is a statutory obligation on those in ministerial office to uphold judicial independence. In this instance however it is difficult to regard the remarks as anything other than undermining and unhelpful to the administration of justice in Northern Ireland”
To this statement Hain made no reply. And it was because of this omission we are now told, that the Attorney General decided to prosecute. Readers can come to their own judgment on whether Hain’s statement to the court adequately answers the charges.
I have never qualified [Girvan's] standing and motivation as a judge before that case nor have I done since. My words were never intended to, nor do I believe that they did, in any way undermine the administration of justice in Northern Ireland or the independence of the Northern Ireland judiciary, that very independence and integrity I worked so hard as secretary of state to achieve support for from all sections of the community, including those who had previously denied it.”
We hope that this will mark the end of any ill-judged attempt in future to prosecute for the ancient offence of ‘scandalising a judge’ and ask that the government and the Supreme Court consider how it can be confined permanently to history.”
It was however enough for Larkin to back down – but not without a parting shot about the legal basis for the action.
It is not obsolete, whether it will be replaced is a matter for the legislature. “My own view is that so much of our human rights, our core human rights, depend upon considerations by judges in courts, and if the public loses confidence in that, something irreplaceable is lost and therefore there must always be some protection accorded to public confidence in the administration of justice.”
How has the NI establishment reacted? There is a good deal of doubt over whether Larkin was right to bring charges. Opinion was divided but not entirely along party lines. Some DUP figures deplored the likely cost of going all the way to the Supreme Court. A majority deplored such gross comments from someone who should have known better. But for some lawyers among the public representatives the action was justified because the attack was so severe. Most wanted the quick resolution that transpired. There is every indication that the Attorney took his own decision and did not seek advance judicial approval. How his reputation will be affected remains to be seen; but at least he vigorously asserted the independence of his new office.
It’s likely that the natural nervousness of the judiciary about politicians generally was increased by the unwelcome publicity and by Westminster’s casual disapproval of the prosecution. For their part local politicians are unlikely to be any clearer about the parameters of judicial independence. Perhaps the Attorney will now feel free to explain himself to the Assembly’s Justice Committtee.
Quite a few local politicians asked: could someone in Hain’s position attack an English judge so blatantly and get away with it? The answer surely is, quite probably yes. And that may be another uncomfortable legacy of Peter Hain’s vanity outburst against a Northern Ireland judge.
This post first appeared in the blogs of the Judicial Independence section of the website of Constitution Unit, University College London. My thanks to Mick and in particular Pete Baker for his meticulous posting on the ongoing story.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : SLUGGER O’ TOOLE.
- The Hain contempt case: a warning to England from Northern Ireland (sluggerotoole.com)
- Peter Hain Quits His Post in Shadow Cabinet ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Peter Hain contempt case shelved (express.co.uk)
- Contempt Case Against Peter Hain Is Dropped (news.sky.com)
- Peter Hain contempt case shelved (thisislondon.co.uk)