The Guilford Four – Birmingham Six – The Real Truth !!!

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Jason Phillips

The release of the Birmingham Six at the Old Bailey in 1991. The idea of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) was established by the Runciman Commission, set up following numerous high profile cases.

The body responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice is to receive a 10% increase in funding after a surge in applications from prisoners claiming they have been wrongfully convicted.

Last year the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) received 1,625 applications from people asking it to investigate their cases – a 64% increase on previous years.

The CCRC believes the dramatic rise in applications is the result of a change in the way that prisoners can apply to the commission.

Richard Foster, chairman of the commission, said: “This is not about some sudden upsurge in miscarriages of justice. It is about the commission making itself much more accessible to those who may most need its help and allowing people to make applications in ways which best suit them personally.”

The new application form – which has been advertised in all prisons — includes pictures and simpler language so that prisoners with even the most basic reading and writing skills can complete it.

Studies have found that more than 50% of prisoners have literacy levels below that expected of 11 year olds.

The Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) promise to give the CCRC nearly half a million pounds extra in funding is particularly noteworthy given the background of swingeing cuts to criminal legal aid.

A MoJ spokeswoman said: “The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an integral part of our justice system.

Over the past year they received a 64% increase in applications so we have granted them a small increase in their budget to deal with the workload and they have allocated more resources to processing applications to reduce delays.”

The funding of the CCRC has long been a contentious issue. The body had suffered a funding cut of 30% in real terms over the last seven years, resulting in redundancies at the commission’s Birmingham headquarters.

This lead critics of the organisation to claim that it lacked the resources to tackle the volume of cases it had to deal with every year.

The idea of the CCRC was established by the Runciman Commission which was set up following numerous high profile miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six.

Garry Runciman, chair of the Royal commission, admitted that it was the funding of the CCRC, rather than its structure that had concerned him.

“I hoped that if a new independent authority was set up on our recommendation that the government wouldn’t just tick the box and then start cutting back on the funding.”

Professor Michael Zander, who was also part of the Runciman Commission, praised the organisation for making itself more accessible: “On the whole I think they’ve being doing quite well, given their resources. The admirable attempt to make their message better known to prisoners has resulted in them being deluged by even more applications.”

“The increased funding is definitely a vote of confidence [in the CCRC] because everything has been going downhill and for anything to get more resources at the moment is remarkable.

“So that’s a triumph, or it may be a recognition that they’ve been shortchanged over quite a long time and it’s now got to a point where even this government has to do something about it, which I applaud. They need all the help they can get in terms of resources.”

The haemorrhaging of staff has now been halted and the commission is currently recruiting case review managers, commissioners and investigations specialists.

“We will be spending this money on front-line staff. We aim not just to cope with this huge increase in applications but also to maintain or improve waiting and turnaround times for cases,” said Foster.

“We all know the pressure on public finances. Ministers would not have increased our funding if they did not recognise both the work the commission has done to make itself as efficient and effective as it can and the importance of identifying, and remedying, miscarriages of justice whenever and wherever they occur.”

For those working with prisoners who are maintaining their innocence – sometimes for decades – in prison, the increased funding is welcome, but concerns over the CCRC’s approach remain.

Maslen Merchant, a lawyer who specialises in miscarriage of justice cases, thinks that the CCRC should see this as an opportunity to refocus its approach.

“I think the CCRC sometimes forgets who they’re dealing with and also the effect that delays can have. It once took a year for the CCRC to publish a decision it had made on a case. The prisoner – was had served 16 years already — was on suicide watch while he awaited his decision.

“They need to meet the prisoners and the families so that they understand what’s at stake. Otherwise it’s just another file – just another name,” said Merchant.

Solicitor Glyn Maddocks, who worked for more than 12 years to get the conviction of Paul Blackburn quashed, agrees: “If the CCRC uses the money to properly and effectively investigate cases rather than doing desktop reviews as they have being doing in recent years, then I would applaud it,” he said.

But a better funded CCRC does not really address the real problem facing the wrongly convicted – namely a lack of legal representation, according to Maddocks.

A shortage of solicitors to take on these difficult and complex cases has turned into a crisis, with most applicants to the CCRC now having no legal representation.

With the MoJ aiming to cut £220m out of criminal legal aid the situation is unlikely to get any better.

Maddocks and other criminal law experts have now created the Centre for Criminal Appeals to try to address the shortfall in legal representation for those who claim to be victims of a miscarriage of justice.

‘GOOD SAMARITAN’ KILLING CONVICTION IS OVERTURNED !!!

http://thepensivequill.am/2013/06/the-accused.html

‘I spent 17 and a half years in jail for somethig. I didn’t do. I intend to seek compensation – Patrick Livingstone.

Pat Livingstone and Anthony McIntyre outside a H Block cell in 1991.
Pat Livingstone and Anthony McIntyre outside a H Block cell in 1991.

A MAN jailed for the notorious murder of a council worker in Belfast nearly 40 years ago has had his conviction quashed. Senior judges declared significant uneasea about the safety of the verdict against Patrick Livingstone for the so-called ‘Good Samaritan‘ killing of Protestant Samuel Llewellyn.

Patrick Livingstone leaves court with his son Cormac yesterday after being cleared of the 1975 murder of ‘Good Samaritian’ Samuel Llewellyn ; top left Mr Livingstone’s sister Julie who was later murdered by the British Army after being hit by a a plastic bullet and below right how the Irish News reported Mr Llewellyn’s murder.

Their ruling was based on the alleged brutality of RUC (scumbag) officers involved in securing a statement implicating the West Belfast man. Mr Livingstone (62) descibed the decision as a vindication of his fight to clear his name. He now plans to seek compensaton for the 17 years he spent behind bars for the murder. Mr Llewellyn was abducted as he delivered hardboard to repair homes damaged by a bombing in the Clonard area of Belfast’s Falls Road in August 1975. The council cleansing department worker, from Mossvale Street on the Shankill Road, was taken to a house in Lesson Streetw where he was shot eight times by the IRA. His body was wrapped in a sheet and put in the back of a van which was then set alight.

Residents of the lower Falls placed a large sympathy notice in The Irish News condemning the murder of a “man who came to the help of old people and residents”. The only evidence against Mr Livingstone at his trial came from three (discredited) RUC officers who interviewed him at Dundalk Garda Station and claimed he confessed to the murder. It was alleged that he taunted the policemen about the shooting, boasting they could do nothing about it because he had no intention of crossing the border. He disputed their account and denied the killing, with his defence claiming the RUC concocted a lying account. However, he was subsequently convicted at Belfast City Commission in May 1977 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

British Injustice

His case was reopened and referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body set up to examine potential miscarriages of justice. The challenge centered on alleged police brutality towards another man who said he was beaten into signing a statement which claimed Mr Livingstone admitted the shooting to him. His allegations included : being put againt a a wall and hit across the stomach ; having chest and head hairs pulled out ; and being hooded, spun around and hit across the feet for up to 45 minutes. The CCRC also investigated the quashing on appeal of another man’s convictions for assualting two of the RUC officers who testified at the murder trial. Ruling on the case alongside two other judges, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan held that the fresh evidence should be introudeced. He said the claims of police mistreatment was never tested and would have opened a line of inquiry “which might have affected the credibility of the police witnesses”. Sir Declan added : “Because of the non-disclosure the appellant lost the opportunity to pursure that line of argument.”

Evidence had also been raised of potential wrongdoing in testimony from at least some of the ( corroupt) police interveiwers, the judge held. He confirmed : “For the reasons set out we have a significant sence of unease about the correctness of this virdict and accordingly allow the appeal.” Mr Livingstone, who was in the Court of Appeal with his son Cormac and other friends yesterday, told how the outcome has been “a long time coming”. Speaking after the verdict, he said : “I feel totally vindicated. But there’s a lot more people than me, on both sides of the devide, who went through those Diplock Courts. “I spent 17 and a half years in jail for something I didn’t do. I intend to seek compensation.” Mr Liningstone’s 14-year-old sister Julie was murdered during the Troubles after being struck by a plastic bullet fired by the British army on Belfast’s Stewartstown Road duing the Hunger Strike of 1981. A brother Robin, who has written extensively about his sisters death ; is the editor of the West Belfast newspaper the Andersontown News.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

For more on this story please follow the link at the top of the page :

IRISH TD’s RAISE CRAIGAVON TWO IN IRISH PARLIAMENT, DURING A MOTION DISCUSSING 15 YEARS SINCE THE BELFAST AGREEMENT !

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Justice for the Craigavon Two

Irish TD’S raise Craigavon Two in the Irish Parliament. during a motion discussing 15 years since the Belfast agreement.

Find below some transcripts of the debate

Eamon O Cuiv.

I am surprised that the motion does not mention justice issues, particularly those which relate to prisoners in the North of Ireland. Deputy Ó Snodaigh is well aware of the matter to which I refer because he visited a number of prisons in that jurisdiction in the company of some Deputies and Senators who have shown great interest in these issues in recent times. I will try to outline the nature of the issues to which I refer and also of the injustices that have been perpetrated. I recognise that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Taoiseach have made representations in respect of these issues. It is important, however, to place on the public record the facts about what is happening.

I wish, first, to refer to the case of Marian McGlinchey – also known as Marian Price – and Martin Corey. Both of these individuals were released on licence many years ago. Marian was actually released in the very early 1980s. In the past two years, they were both arrested and imprisoned. Neither they nor we know what the allegations against them are. It seems extraordinary that, at this remove, someone can be put in prison and not be informed as to the nature of the evidence against them. These people were arrested and imprisoned on the order of the British Secretary of State. There is no limit to the amount of time that can be taken to hear their cases. If parole is refused, neither will be informed of the grounds for this. It is impossible to refute evidence if one does not know the nature of it. If this was happening in any other part of the world, motions of condemnation of a state which allowed such a justice system to obtain would be tabled all over the place.

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan and I visited Marian Price in hospital yesterday. Ms Price has been in hospital for nearly a year and last week she was moved to an acute unit. She is suffering from a multitude of ailments and her immune system is breaking down as a result of the various medicines with which she is being treated. I am concerned about the ongoing incarceration of these two people.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to go into his case. Both cases are effectively detention without trial and will do more to destabilise the peace process than anything else of which one can dream.

Why were Mr. Gary Adams and Mr. Gerry McGeough, the so-called on-the-runs, picked to be put in prison? As Mr. McGeough was released after two years, it is obvious that the system does not view him as a threat to society. A part of the delay in Mr. Adams’s case has to do with who he was with he was in prison. It is extraordinary that someone could be refused parole because he or she was put into a certain part of a prison. I assure the Minister that choice of who to associate with in prison is not that great.

Regarding the so-called dissidents, a dirty protest continued for more than one year. When it concluded last year, undertakings were given in respect of change. Judging by what we were told during our visit to HM Prison Maghaberry yesterday, no change has occurred. It further transpired that many of the people in question were in prison on indefinite remand for court cases that were still awaited. The remand period can continue in such cases. This is detention without trial.

The arrests and convictions of Mr. Adams and Mr. McGeough were contrary to an international agreement between the Irish and British Governments, that being, Weston Park Agreement. I am amazed that this has not been mentioned on the Sinn Féin motion’s “To Do” list.

Serious abuses have occurred in the case of Mr. Brendan McConville and Mr. John Paul Wootton. It was due to be started in the appeal court before the prosecution stated that it had further evidence. It now appears that the prosecution was collecting intelligence on discussions held between another witness who would confound the prosecution’s evidence and his solicitor. Matters have become so serious that an application has been made to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal to ask the Criminal Cases Review Commission to direct the police investigation, something that is possible in Northern Ireland.

Maureen O’Sullivan

I am a member of the foreign affairs committee. When we meet people from conflict areas, they take great heart from the Northern peace process. After generations of bloodshed, bitterness and deep division, peace was achieved. No one wants to see it undermined, but that is what is happening. Lasting peace cannot be achieved without justice, something that is being undermined in the North. I have raised the issue of prisoners at Maghaberry prison in Priority Questions and Topical Issues. With a group of Deputies, I visited the prisoners several times. Their human rights are being abused. I am not referring to their political views. How could a dirty protest continue for 18 months without anyone paying the prisoners a blind bit of notice? We have been told that the agreement is not being implemented in the prison.

Regarding Ms Marian Price, how could a royal prerogative of mercy that received significant coverage when given be lost so suddenly? She is the only female being held in isolation in a male jail. Her medical treatment leaves much to be desired. These are abuses of her human rights. Her hearing with the Parole Commissioners is repeatedly postponed. She has been held two years on the basis of allegations.

Equally disturbing is the case of Mr. Martin Corey, who has been in jail for three years having had his licence revoked on the basis of allegations. Following a judicial review, the judge opted to release him, but the Secretary of State prevented that from happening. He is long overdue a parole review. It will not be held until July. This is internment without trial. In a democracy, due process should be followed. Level a charge, bring a person to court and let him or her have a say. If there is a conviction, it can be appealed. Otherwise, the person serves time. So-called evidence is being produced, but it will be closed. Barristers and solicitors will effectively be going into the case blindfolded.

The sword of Damocles is hanging over others who are out on licence. We have had the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. We now have the Craigavon Two, men who are being held following a series of allegations, dubious circumstantial evidence and serious issues relating to the PSNI and the covert surveillance of civilians. These injustices are putting the peace process in jeopardy. Do we never learn from history? Are we trying to create more martyrs and fill the ranks of dissident groups?

I believe in people’s democratic right to a fair trial. People in the North are being denied this right. Those being held on grounds of dubious allegations are not the problem. Rather, they would be a part of the solution if the situation was being addressed correctly and fairly.

Mick Wallace

The Good Friday Agreement has been a very positive development, but we should not take things for granted. There is still work to be done if we are to ensure the long-term sustainability of the peace process. Like other Deputies in yesterday’s debate, I want to concentrate on some of the prison issues. Marian Price and Martin Corey were released on licence many years ago but were rearrested in the last few years and are now imprisoned without trial.

It is called internment. A series of abuses have occurred in the case of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, known as the Craigavon Two. Allegations are weak in both cases and there are serious issues relating to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI, regarding their convictions and recent failed appeal. Injustices have the potential to put the peace process at risk.

Having visited Maghaberry Prison on three occasions over the last three months with other Members of the Oireachtas and listened to the prisoners’ side of the story, one would have to be concerned. I have no interest in republicanism, but I feel the treatment of political prisoners in Maghaberry is unjust and leaves much to be desired. Prisoners’ rights were promised in 2010 but did not materialise and this led to a dirty protest which lasted 18 months up to last December. Promises were made again following the end of the protest, and again they were not delivered. Measures were to be introduced to bring about a conflict-free environment in the prison. These were to be brought in over three phases in a 12 month period to include movement access, whereby they were promised they would be allowed to have six men on the landing at one time, three in the laundry, three in the phone room and three in the classroom. It turns out the classroom is not available to them. There are no teachers available to them. These prisoners are getting no education and are locked up in their own cells most of the day. It does not make much sense.

What ever happened to the idea that prison was meant to reform the prisoner, make him or her a better person and fit for society? They also have serious grievances about the continued use of strip-searching and the use of isolation in an effort to break particular prisoners. It would make far more sense to have a peaceful atmosphere in the prison rather than one of conflict.

Clare Daly

The issues Deputy Wallace has raised have been silenced by the mainstream media here in the South and we will ignore these issues at our peril. Not too far up the road we have a man who has been in jail for three years who meets all the criteria of the Good Friday Agreement, whose licence was revoked, allegedly for security reasons. He and his legal team have not been informed of these reasons and decisions have been made behind closed doors. The exact same situation faces Martin Corey and the very ill Marian Price, people who have not been presented with the cases against them and who have remained in custody for years. This is not the type of approach that will bring peace in the North. These people are becoming symbols of a continued injustice, and of the fact that internment without trial is still alive and well. There cannot be peace unless justice is done openly and transparently.

I am not a nationalist or a republican. I am an internationalist and am concerned about these issues very much from a human rights point of view, and that is why we have been involved in the cross-party delegations to Maghaberry Prison. It is absolutely reprehensible that the prison authorities and the establishment in the North and Britain have breached agreements and promises regarding prisoners’ conditions which should allow the men to go out onto the landings and socially interact, to get an education, to engage in handicrafts and other issues which deal with rehabilitation. This is not a way forward to bring a conflict-free environment. It is not in the interests of the prisoners or the staff in that prison. Unless we here address these issues we cannot have a lasting peace. I urge the authorities in the South to exert pressure for a desperately needed resolution of these issues.

Thomas Pringle

It is appropriate that 15 years on we should note progress and renew commitment to the Good Friday Agreement in this House. The Government’s amendment stresses that it continues to work towards the observation and implementation of human rights principles. As has been outlined by other Deputies in their contributions, the human rights of prisoners in the North are being abused on a daily basis. Martin Corey, Marian Price and the Craigavon Two are all having their human rights abused. The Government needs to step up to the mark on this and ensure it deals proactively with the British Administration because the Secretary of State is overruling the court system in the Six Counties to ensure these prisoner are kept in custody. This is internment. Holding prisoners without any notice of charge, trial date or attempt to bring them to trial is an abuse of human rights. This Government needs to ensure this is addressed and to deal with it very proactively.

The purpose of the Good Friday Agreement was to remove the circumstances that caused the conflict in the first place, but the British Government is leaving the potential for martyrs and undermining people’s confidence in the justice system. The justice system has to be an integral part of any peace process and the workings of the Good Friday Agreement.

OFFICERS TO GIVE EVIDENCE ON PSNI/RUC ‘BID TO SABOTAGE APPEAL’ !

‘It’s our case  that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process – Barry Macdonald QC.

POLICE decision-making and arresting officers are to give evidence about an alleged attempt to sabotage appeals by two men jailed for murdering  Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard. Amid repeated claims that the PSNI/RUC tried to stymie the legal process by detaining a new witness, senior judges were told covert surveillance recordings were also to be examined.

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Details emerged as an unprecedented bid to secure independent oversight of the ongoing police investigation was put back until October. Interference  has been alleged by lawyers for John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville, both of whom are seeking to overturn their murder convictions. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon on March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the killing. Wotton (22), of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Days before their joint appeal was to get under way last month, a man related to a key prosecution witness was arrested and held for two days before being released without charge. This man has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar.

According to defence lawyers police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence and told him he would be discredited if he testified.The lawyers want the Court of Appeal to direct independent oversight of this aspect of the investigation. One option would be for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to intervene. A separate request has been made to the police oombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct. In court yesterday Barry Macdonald QC, for McConville, said : “It’s our case that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process.” Questions to be decided in the defence application include :

  • Was  the surveillance operation properly authorised under laws governing the use of covert techniques?
  • Was the arrest of the new witness lawful and necessary?
  • Was there any attempt to presuade or coerce him to alter his evidence?
  • Has there been any police manipulation of the process?
  • If so, what are the consequences?

Mr Macdonald said he intended to call the new wwitness and at least one solicitor to testify. Ciaran Murphy QC, for the Public Prosecution Service, told the court that all police officers who had either decided to make the arrest or carried it out would be expected to give evidence. All interviews and recordings should be gone through as well, in a process that could take days, he suggested. Mr Murphy said he was satisfied proper authorisation was obtained in relation to the covert material. “If there is action by the police either inappropriate or unlawful, past or future, there is a clear remedy open to the defendants,” he said. However, Mr Macdonald expressed concern that the application would not be heard until October, when the appeal itself is scheduled to begin. “In the absence of any measures to provide independent oversight of this investigation the court itself will have exposed itself to possible liability for breach of article 6 [ right to a fair trial ],” the lawyer said. The case was adjourned for a further review next month.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

MEN JAILED FOR CARROLL KILLING GET DATE FOR LEGAL CHALLENGE

‘ Last week judges were told police have tried to sabotage appeals being mounted by John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville.

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AN unprecedented legal bid for independent oversight of PSNI/RUC inquiries surrounding the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll will take place next week.

Lawyers for the two men attempting to overturn their convictions for the killing are seeking an order for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to examine the arrest of a new witness in the case. They are also making a separate application to the Police Ombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct in the operation. Last week judges were told police have tried to sabotage appeals being mounted by John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville. Defence counsel made thehclaim as their joint challenge to being found guilty of the murder was put back until October 7th amid uncertainty over potential fresh evidence. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon in March 2009.

McConville (41) of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wootton, (22) of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. It was revealed in court that an related to a key prosecution  witness was arrested two weeks ago and held for two days before being released without charge. This man has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar. According to defence lawyers police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence, and warned he would be discredited if he testified. They now want the Court of Appeal to direct the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to look into this aspect of the case. Judges yesterday listed their application for  hearing next Wednesday. It was also confirmed that transcripts from all but one of the 11 interviews carried out with this new wittness have been handed over to the defence teams. As he updated the court Ciaran Murphy QC, prosecuting, said ongoing police inquires are expected to take another four weeks. Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pointed out : “Part of this application is about who should conduct/supervise that investigation.” Mr Murphy replied by suggesting the CCRC may have difficulties in dealing with a continuing police probe.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

SECURITY FORCE SURVEILLANCE OF JUSTICE GROUP

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Justice for the Craigavon Two

Security Force surveillance of Justice Group

A Co. Antrim councillor who belongs to a group set up to campaign for the release of two men convicted of killing police officer Stephen Carroll believes she may be under security force surveillance.

Anita Cavlan, who is an independent councillor in Ballymoney, says she has been told she may be monitored because of her involvement with the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group.

Her claim comes in the wake of a court hearing earlier this week where the PSNI was accused of trying to “sabotage” the appeals launched by Craigavon men Brendan McConville (41) and John Paul Wootton (21).

Last night Gerry Conlon, who was wrongfully convicted of the IRA Guildford pub bombings, also spoke of his unease amid claims that police named him to a man who was being questioned about the case last week.

The Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group was set up last year to highlight claims of innocence by McConville and Wootton who were convicted of Mr Carroll’s murder last May.The Officer died after being shot in the head by a Continuity IRA sniper as he and his colleagues answered a hoax emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009.

McConville was told he will have to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail while Wootton will serve at least 14 years behind bars.

An appeal hearing into the case was supposed to start on Monday but was adjourned after it emerged that a key defence witness was arrested and held by police for two days last week before being released without charge.

It also emerged that the man is a relative of Witness M who gave evidence against Brendan McConville during last year’s trial.

In a statement given to McConville’s defence team last month he branded Witness M as a “compulsive liar”.

The arrest was made after a surveillance operation, which is understood to have focused on a number of people.

Mr Conlon, who is chairman of the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group, attended this week’s court hearing with Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six.

He said his name was mentioned to Witness M’s relative when he was being questioned by police.

“My name was brought up and while it’s not surprising it is disturbing” he said. “They obviously know my background and they know what i stand for”. “There are times when you praise the police for their investigations into miscarriages of justice, I understand the need for them “. “But i also understand the need for transparency in order to have faith in the institutions”. “its not me that calls the institutions into question, its the institutions themselves.”

Last night Anita Cavlan, who is a former Sinn Fein councillor, claimed she has been told she may have been under surveillance because of her work in the Justice for the Craigavon Two Group. “Everything i am doing is above board and perfectly legal and, as we know from previous incidents, people can be fitted up to try to put them off being involved in justice campaigns,” the independent councillor said. “I am an elected representative and part of a legal justice campaign and we are being snooped on.”

Mr McConville’s solicitor Kevin Winters said he will ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI investigation into matters relating to the new witness.

A Spokesman for the PSNI said “While we can not comment on named individuals, anyone with a complaint about the actions of the police is advised to contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”

POLICE ‘TRIED TO SABOTAGE’ APPEAL IN CONSTABLE MURDER CASE

” Two police officers called at the house of this wwitness on whose fresh evidence we rely…. it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited ” – Barry Macdonald QC.

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POLICE have made an apparent attempt to sabotage appeals by two men convicted of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll, a court heard yesterday. A new witness in the case of John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville was arrested last week and held for two days before being released without charge in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence, it was claimed.

Senior judges were told officers had forced their way into his home and warned him he would be discredited if he went to court. Yesterday the planned five-day hearing of the appeal by the pair found guilty of the killing was adjourned because of uncertainty over the potential fresh evidence. Defence lawyers said they would lodge a complaint with the police oombudsman’s office. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to an emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wotton (22), of Collingdale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Dressed in dark suits and wearing shirts and ties, both men were led handcuffed into a packed Court of Appeal for the planned opening of their cchallenge.

Family, friends and supporters, including Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four (pictured above), gathered in the public gallery a few feet away from the murdered officer’s wife Kate Carroll. They heard prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC seek an adjournment because of the new developments. He said an arrest had been made last week as part of a surveillance operation. “There are a number of lines of inquiry that are not yet complete,” he said. Two lever-arch files of new material have emerged and include the contents of 11 interviews. Mr Murphy indicated that ongoing police inquires could take several weeks. McConville’s barrister Barry Macdonald QC stressed that the prosecution case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, primarily from a man identified only as witness M who claimed to have seen McConville in the area at the time of the killing. Earlier this month a relative of witness M who did not testify at the trial gave an affidavit branding him a compulsive liar, the court heard. Mr Macdonald said the affidavit stated “that he was known to the family as a Walter Mitty, that made up stories, that he had a fertile imagination and you could not believe anything he said “. According to the relative, witness M could not have taken the route he claimed on the night of the murder because his partner was not welcome in his home.

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Mr Macdonald told the court : “Then last Monday two police officers called at the house of this witness on whose fresh evidence we rely. “On my instructions it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited.” The three appeal judges, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan and Lords Justices Higgins and Coghlin, were informed that letters of complaint were also to be sent to the Public Prosecution Service and the Law Society amid concerns that covert surveillance might have been used against the witness, his solicitor or both. Mr Macdonald described the application to adjourn the hearing as “suspicious to say the least”. Defence teams would have no faith in police carrying out an investigation into the issues raised because of the apparent conflict of interest, the barrister said. It was alleged that officers had been able to “arrest this witness and to subject him to pressure – we say improper pressure – with a view to securing the withdrawal of his evedence and therefore undermining the appeal”. Mr Macdonald called for a more independent oversight process. “I’m simply registering strong objection to the conduct that appears to have taken place here and flagging up our deep concerns at the prospect that police should be given more time to sabotage this appeal and put their case togeather,” he said. Following discussions Sir Declan confirmed that the hearing would be postponed until October.

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Solicitors seek ‘independent’ investigators

SOLICITORS acting for Brendan McConville will ask a court to appoint “independent” investigators after the PSNI/RUC was accused of trying to “sabotage” his appeal. Kevin Winters last night said he would ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI/RUC investigation into a new witness in the case just days after that witness signed an affidavit for the defence team. This arrest was made after a surveillance operation that is understood to have focused on several people. It is beleived to be the first time a court in the North of Ireland will be asked to remove control of an investigation from the PSNI/RUC and hand it to the commission. Set up in 1997 the commission reviews possible miscarriages of justice.

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Defence solicitors say it can oversee police investigations in certain circumstances. Mr Winters emphasised the need for an independant body to look at the matter. The police ombudsman’s office has also asked to probe the circumstances of the witness’s arrest. “We have concerns and they were highlighted in court about the manner in which the police have approached this and have written to the police ombudsman and in the strongest terms voiced our grave concerns,” Mr Winters said. The lawyer said he had also written to the Law Society and had asked the Public Prosecution Service to confirm it had offered direction or advice to the PSNI/RUC in relation to the arrest of witness M’s relative. A PSNI/RUC spokesman said : “Police inquiries into this matter are continuing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.

ONE STATE AGENT MAY HAVE KILLED ANOTHER : LAWYER

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THE public has a right to know whether one state agent was allowed to murder another to advance within the IRA a court has heard. Lawyers for a husband and wife seeking full reasons why the Public Prosecution Service accepts that their convictions for offences linked to the interrogation and killing of a police informer should be quashed said non-disclosoure could lead to further wrongdoing.

Senior judges were told that PSNI/RUC and Police Ombudsman investigations into RUC and military behaviour in the case of James Martin and Veronica Ryan are under way. The West Belfast couple were convicted of the false imprisonment of Joe Fenton, a Special Branch agent and informer shot dead after being lured to a house in the city in February 1989. James Martin, who was also found guilty of making property available for terrorism, was later jailed for four years. His wife, formerly known as Veronica Martin, was jailed for six months.

Collusion = State Murder

Their case was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which examines potential miscarriages of justice. Last year it emerged that the Director of Public Prosecutions Barbra McGrory believed the guilty verdicts should be quashed. However, a public interest immunity certificate has been obtained to protect a confidential dossier containing relevant sensitive material. Lawyers for the couple are seeking a full and open judgement when judges decide whether to overturn their convictions. Sean Devine, counsel for Mr Martin, said the public deserved to know about secretive behaviour. He said a man with the initials FS – the next submissions are of my own not the lawyers just for the record – (Freddie Scappaticci) – Codename – Stake knife was at the centre of the case. – ( my own submissions closed).

” There could be landmines exploding silently around me as I make submissions because I’m in the dark about what the basis is for the proposed overturning of these convictions,” he said. If the speculation is correct and it’s the case that one agent of the state was allowed to execute another agent of the state to enhance his position with a paramilitary organisation so he could provide a higher grade of intelligence that needs to be stated.” Referring to the alleged mishandling of agents, Mr Devine said higher standards are expected from the authorities. ” If it’s the case that there was some profoundly embarssing behaviour and there may be widespread reprecussions, it’s better to lance the boil rather than to leave communities and individuals speculating about what went wrong,” he said. ” There’s been the destruction of lives and that can’t be remedied by more secretive behaviour on the part of other authorities.

“Unless the court does reveal what went wrong then those that have perpetrated this type of behaviour and those that are minded to do so in the future will continue to do so.” Richard Greene, counsel for Ms Ryan, said this could be her only chance to obtain answers about why she was jailed. Gerald Simpon QC, for the proseuction service, said that the case for delivering a closed judgement was “overwhelming”. He rejected claims that such a verdict would endorse wrongdoing. By simply quashing the convictions the court would be following the director in condemning such behaviour, he argued. He confirmed that the case has been referred to police. ” There is now an investigation into these events,” he said. Pressed by the judges on what priority it had been given, Mr Simpson said a meeting with the police ombudsman took place last week in an attempt to make progress. Lord Justice Coghlin said : “This court is charged with a public duty to deliver open justice. “There’s certainly, in my veiw, a viable arguement that by its inability to do that is a risk of harm being done not only to an individual but also to the public duty of the court itself.” Following Thursday’s submissions the three-judge panel reserved their decision on the application.

 

IRA convictions against husband and wife to be quashed

IRA convictions against husband and wife to be quashed

Scales of justice
The Court of Appeal was told that the guilty verdicts against the couple should be quashed
 

A husband and wife jailed for offences connected to the IRA interrogation and murder of a police informer appear set to have their convictions overturned.

James Martin and Veronica Ryan, from west Belfast, were both convicted of the false imprisonment of Joe Fenton.

Mr Fenton was a Special Branch agent shot dead after being lured to a house in the city in February 1989

The Court of Appeal was told that the prosecution accepts the guilty verdicts against the couple should be quashed.

Mr Martin, who was also found guilty of making property available for terrorism, was later sentenced to four years imprisonment.

His wife, formerly known as Veronica Martin, was jailed for six months.

Similar false imprisonment counts against the couple over the abduction of another informer, Sandy Lynch, in 1990 were overturned three years ago.

Matter of time

In an unprecedented move, the Criminal Cases Review Commission decided to refer separate convictions relating to the Fenton incident back to the Court of Appeal.

The body, set up to examine potential miscarriages of justice, refused to disclose the reasons for its decision.

But in court on Friday senior counsel for the prosecution confirmed its new position.

Gerry Simpson QC said: “The prosecution accepts that the convictions of these appellants should be quashed.”

One reason given was that all relevant material was not made available to the Director of Public Prosecutions, preventing him from properly considering whether Mr Martin and Ms Ryan should have faced charges.

Mr Simpson added: “The fact that such material was withheld from the director during the proceedings prevented the director from discharging the prosecution’s duty of disclosure, which had the capacity to affect the continuation or outcome of the proceedings.”

Although the court has not yet formally quashed the convictions, legal sources said the announcement by the prosecution meant it was only a matter of time.

A further hearing next month is expected to deal with any further disclosure being sought in the case.

Outside court Mr Martin and Ms Ryan’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, said they must now be given a full explanation.

“We welcome this second such decision. It is unprecedented that two separate cases like this stand to be dismissed on the same basis,” he said.

“The appellants are now entitled to know the reasons why they were subjected to what we say was a contrived prosecution.”

Mr Winters also vowed to press ahead with further proceedings, including compensation claims, following Friday’s developments.

With Many Thanks To : BBC News Northern Ireland.