POLICE have a banded a planned Supreme Court challenge to a ruling that stop, search and question operations involving a former IRA hunger striker and a brother-in-law of Martin McGunness were unlawful.
“Anyone ever stopped and searched under Section 21 of the Stop and Search Act,
Seek legal advice and sue the PSNI/RUC
It was ilillegal and you are entitled to claim against our
so-called great unbiased police service – TAL32.
Senoir judges in Belfast have been told an appeal by the cheif contabe and secretary of state in the cases of Bernard Fox and Marvin Canning was no longer being persued. Both men are now to press ahead with claimes for damages againt the PSNI/RUC, with Mr Cannings ‘ lawyer disclosing he has been stopped more than 100 times. Eariler this year the Court of Appeal held there was a lack of adequate safegards against potental abuse of system used under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007. Mr Canning, from Derry, said the stop and question powers were incomppatible with his right to privacy under Euorpean law. The 55-year-old, who is related to the deputy first minister through marriage, alleged that officers were sometimes oppressive and confrontational. He denies any involvement in terrorism but confirmed he is a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, stating it is not an illegal organization. Police had rejected claims that powers under the act were arbitrary used against him.
A similar judicial rreview challenge was brought by Mr Fox, who took part in the 1981 Hunger strike at the Maze Prison, and his companion Christine McNulty. The Belfast man served more than 20 years in prison for offences including possession of explosives before being released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Police stopped a car he and Ms McNulty were travelling in near Camlough, Co Armagh in March 2011. Their vehicle was searched for munitions, while an officer allegedly took Ms McNulty’s handbag and went through the contents. Mr Fox denies any invovement with dissident republican activities. Police argued that the power was not intended to be used randomly but rather on the basis of threat. Lawyers in both cases successfully overturned a previous High Court decision that no violation under the European Convention on Human Rights had occourred. In the Court of appeal ruling Lord Justice Girvan identified the absence of a code of practice for stop and question operatins under Section 21 of the act. The legal framework pending the introduction of an effective code dies not contain the kind of safeguards against potential abuse or arbitrariness, he held.
Although ammendments have been made to the section dealing with stop-and-search actions, the court ruled in favour of Mr Fox and Ms McNulty based on the situation at the time. Counsel for the chief constable and the secretary of state was expected to attempt to appeal the verdicts at the UK’s highest court but both pulled out at the last minute. However, Tony McGleenan QC on Friday told the Court of Appeal: “I have received instructions this morning that we are not to pursue the appliction for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in either the Fox or McNulty cases.” Following the notification Mr Canning’s solicitor Paul Pierce of KRW law said: “In veiw of the decision by the chief constable and the secretary of state to abandon the appeal, it now confirms the ruling that the stop and search powers used by police were unlawful. “The fact that a code of practice has now been introduced does not remeady the unlawful use of these wide-ranging powers.” “Our client will now be pursuring a claim for damages, having been subjected to these stop and search powers in excess of 100 times.”
With many thanks to : The Irish News.
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