Letter from the Craigavon Two, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton.

John Paul Wotton (left) and Brendan McConville (right), two innocent men convicted for a crime they ‘did not commit’ British Scape-Goats, serving the rest of their lives in an English Prison because (simply their Irish) and someone had to pay !!!

Hello, We the Craigavon Two as we have become known, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton are to begin our appeal against our life sentence convictions for the killing of PSNI member Stephen Carroll.

We have consistently maintained our innocence and we believe as do others that the case against us represents a serious miscarriage of justice,we were tried in exceptional circumstances under the old and seriously flawed Diplock process, a hangover from the long conflict here, this system deprived us of a trial by a jury of our peers, instead a single judge presided over and convicted us.

The entire case against us was circumstantial and we believe seriously flawed, large tracts of evidence was hidden from us and the public, claiming national security. Public interest immunity certificates prevented our defence from properly investigating the evidence and cross examining witnesses vital to our defence case, in effect we were left with one arm tied behind our backs.

We do not believe this represents clear and transparent justice. A number of groups and individuals after reading into our case have expressed sufficient concern that many have stated publicly they will be attending the appeal process to provide independent oversight.

Our appeal starts on Monday (29,4,13) we the Craigavon Two, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton call on you, the public to observe the appeal process, this warped version of justice is being administered in your name.

And we ask you to look past the sensationalist headlines and look at the cold hard facts of this case, your voice matters, do not let this miscarriage of justice continue in your name.

The Craigavon Two
Brendan McConville & John Paul Wootton
Maghaberry Gaol
Sent on behalf of Brendan and John Paul
by the JFTC2 group.

With thanks to: Kevin Kinsella 


YOU probably didn’t notice and there’s no reason why you should, but the same day that a certain loyalist blogger and serial self-publicist was giving evidence to Stormont’s Nama inquiry the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) snuck out its policy paper on implementing the Stormont House Agreement.


Needless to say it got it got virtually no coverage in the tidal wave of sensational allegations made about the alleged recipients of money from the Cerberus deal. If you’ve ever wondered why the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) decided to draft the Stormont House Agreement Bill 2015 and bring it through Westminister rather than allow the clowns in the big house on the hill to legislate, once you read the policy paper all becomes clear. Quite simply the British government intends to control the Historical Inquires Unit (HIU), on what information it can have and what it can reveal. Anyone who beleives that the Policing Board will hold the HIU accountable is living in cloud-cuckoo land. “The secretary of state will have oversight of the HIU regarding reserved and excepted matters.” The UK government will prevent disclosure of any material or information ‘likely to prejudice national security (including information from the intelligence services)’. None of this material can be published ‘without the consent of the secretary of state’. Now as we all know from past experience, ‘likely to prejudice national security’ is whatever our proconsul for the time being decides is national security. When you look at the policy paper you see it begins with a questionable statement and continues to ignore all suggestions and recommendations made by interested parties, nationalist political parties, NGOs like the Committee for the Administration of Justice and university academics. In short, it’s a classic NIO document. It begins with the unconvincing claim that ‘the institutions have the needs of the victims and their families are at their heart’. No. The needs of secrecy in the Ministry of Defence, the NIO and the Home Office are at their heart. It has never been any different in the secretive British state.

For example it was only in 2002 after Freedom of Information requests that details of Special Branch investigation into Charles Stewart Parnell and other Irish MPs were released and even then only in restricted fashion. The names of informers (touts) and amounts paid are still secret 125 years after the fact. Academics at QUB, Sinn Féin (Shame Fein) politicians and the CAJ among others recommended that former RUC and RUC Special Branch personnel be not employed in the HIU partly because they may have been complicit in collusion or cover up or both. The great merit of the Historical Enquiries Team was that its personnel were seconded from English forces and we all know why. However, ignoring all that, ‘the bill does not prohibit the HIU from recruiting persons who have previously served in policing or security roles in the North of Ireland.’

So the HIU won’t work and the NIO has made sure it won’t work because it will only investigate and publish what the NIO allows it to invstigate and publish. Then there’s the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). It’s modelled on the Independent Commission on the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) which has worked extremely well. However, the NIO policy paper goes out of its way to make clear that while information given to the ICIR is inadmissible in court, if that information is obtained or can be obtained by other means then prosecution may follow.

That puts the kibosh on the ICIR because given the record of the PSNI over the past four years, starting with the Boston College fiasco (all hearsay) and continuing with their apparent trawling after the killing of Kevin McGuigan with almost a score of people arrested and released, who is going to risk giving information to the ICIR to pass to families? Inevitably individuals in the PSNI/RUC would be working backwards from the material a family recieved. In mitigation it has to be said on the basis of evidence so far, that’s only likely in the case of prominent Sinn Féin figures. Buried in the policy paper is our proconsul’s admission that ‘on some detailed questions covered in the bill, there is not yet a clear consensus between the five main North of Ireland parties. Work will continue to build consensus on remaining points of difference.’ Yeah right.
With many thanks to: Brian Feeny, for the origional story, The Irish News.


DOES Anyone honestly believe Marian Price is a threat to national security? At almost 60 and in very poor & mental & physical health, the one-time radical republican has long since passed her revolutionary sell-by-date.

The deterioration in her health leaves her unable to even sit through a video-link court appearance, never mind oversee the actions of an armed dissident republican group. However, for those opposed to peace what she does represent is a link with a past romanticised by disillusioned former IRA members. Her conviction for bombing the Old Bailey along with her sister Dolours and one-time close friend and fellow bomber turned political enemy Gerry Kelly led to imprisonment in Englandwhere the sisters were both force-fed daily in the most violent of circumstances. 

They became part of a campaign that gained massive support. As news of their ill-treatment went global and was made Public, thousands protested in rallies across Ireland. Marian Price’s present plight does not muster that support in such numbers. The most vocal callers for her release now come in the unlikely guise of the SDLP which has been outspoken in it’s condemnation of keeping a women fast approaching pensionable age behind bars.

Gerry Kelly
Gerry Kelly

The revoking of life licences remains a sore point – it is a process overseen by a British secretary of state and beyond the control of a locally elected justice minister. Mr Owen Patterson ( now resigned ) deemed Price a threat to NATIONAL SECURITY ” I doubt that the MP for North Shropshire knows Price personally and therefore we have to assume he acted on advice given by a security source here. Whether that was directly from the PSNI or the more shadowy security agencies or another unknown source may never be known, as legally the secretary of state does not have to reveal details of the ” intelligence ” that led to his assessment. Charges against the Veteran republican relating to a rally in which a masked Real IRA member read out a statement were last week dramatically thrown out of court. The judge presiding over the case had previously warned the prosecution to get it’s finger out in a case that required no complicated forensic evidence yet had already taken more than a year to prepare. Despite last weeks ruling, the PPS has indicated an intention to push ahead with the prosecution via indictable summons. However, this is all irrelevant to Price’s plight as regardless of the out come of both this and a further charge of providing a mobile phone that police allege was used to claim the murder of two British soldiers at Massereene in 2009, she will still stay behind bars indefinitely while her licence has remains revoked.SAME WAR - SAME MEDIA COVER - UP !

Her detention has been likened to internment and it certainly has a whiff of the Guatanamo Bay about it, holding someone in isolation, without trail and with no release date. Doctors have deemed Price too mentally ill to take part in any court proceedings. That includes those conducted by the parole commissioners who preside over the sentence review board – the only people apart from the secretary of state with the power to release her. While this situation continues she remains in limbo. Leaving aside the implications to Price and her family there are potentially more sinister repercussions from such a seemingly undemocratic detention.

We enjoy a fragile peace that relies on the support of the public for the north’s institutions. As it becomes increasingly clear that politicians here enjoy only a limited amount of power and have no say over certain aspects of the justice department including the managing of life licences – this can cause a loss of confidence.


It also points up a gaping flaw in the Stormont institutions, a fault easily exploited by those who oppose them. This discord manifests not in the leafy middle – class suburbs, where the detention of a former IRA bomber is unlikely to bring about outpourings of sympathy or make for dinner party conversation, but in places such as Derry, Lurgan and North and West Belfast where maintaining peace has always been a difficult juggling act and the danger of a return to violence is never too far away. Marian Price is a broken women. Releasing her poses no threat to Northern Ireland’s future but keeping her locked up does. It is now a critical situation that needs to be addressed before one women’s imprisonment is allowed to become a recruitment tool for those violently opposed to peace.


David Cameron defends secret courts and web monitoring plans

 David Cameron: “It is the job of the prime minister to make sure we do everything that is necessary to keep our country safe”

David Cameron has said “gaps” in national security must be plugged as he defended plans for more secret court hearings and more internet monitoring.

It follows concerns raised by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and others about civil liberties implications.

Mr Clegg said allowing ministers, not judges, to order court proceedings to be held in secret went too far.

The prime minister said there was still time “to deal with everybody’s concerns” before firming up the plans.

Proposals have been put forward to allow sensitive intelligence information to be heard in secret by a judge and “special advocates” in civil cases brought against the government.

It follows a case last year in which the government eventually settled out of court with 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees, after the Supreme Court ruled it could not go to “closed material procedures” (allow secret evidence) in civil cases.

Final say

The deal ended the men’s damages claim for which they were demanding to see secret documents detailing their detention and ill-treatment by US forces in the wake of 9/11.

The proposed expansion of the use of secret hearings to civil courts and inquests is intended to ensure the government can contest such cases in the future, rather than settling them to avoid sensitive information being revealed in open court.

Continue reading the main story


image of John Pienaar John Pienaar Chief political correspondent, BBC Radio 5 Live

Wrangling between ministers on highly sensitive aspects of policy is now commonplace.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – keen to flag up his party’s claim to be guardians of civil liberties – saw his doubts about extending the use of so-called secret trials leaked overnight.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke argues, publicly and on air, that judges will have the last word on whether civil proceedings – where secret intelligence material needs to be protected – will take place behind locked doors.

And there will be no ministerial attempt to impose secrecy unless national security is at issue.

However, Mr Clarke suggests the judge’s role will be comparable to judicial review: in other words reviewing the process, not second guessing the decision itself.

That is a potential stumbling block.

And will inquests be included? There’s much wrangling still to come, and thanks to the goldfish bowl politics of coalition, we’ll see it unfold in the run-up to important local elections in May.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said there was no doubt that the changes were also being pushed by the intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 – partly due to concerns in the US about shared intelligence being revealed.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke told the BBC: “The Americans have got nervous that we are going to start revealing some of their information and they have started cutting back, I am assured, on what they disclose.”

But Mr Clegg has reportedly told the prime minister, ministers and security chiefs on the National Security Council that, without changes to the current proposals, his party would not back the legislation.

The Daily Mail reported Mr Clegg says it must be a judge, not ministers, who get the final say on when the powers to hold a secret hearing should be used and argues that powers should not apply to coroners’ courts.

It follows a separate row over plans to increase monitoring of phone calls, web and email use, criticised by some, including Conservative backbenchers, as “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people”.

In questions after a London speech on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said it was his job as prime minister to “make sure that we do everything that is necessary to keep our country safe” from serious crime and terrorist threats.

He said he believed there were “significant gaps in our defences”, due to technological changes such as people making phone calls using the internet and because it sometimes was not possible to use intelligence material in court cases.

‘Huge engagement’

Difficult decisions needed to be made and it was important that the “government makes progress on these vital agendas” – but it would be done in a “moderate, calm and reasonable manner”.

He stressed there had already been “huge engagement” with the legal profession and civil liberties groups and added: “We are not at the end of that process yet… these are issues that we need to deal with. There is still time [before the Queen’s Speech] to deal with everybody’s concerns.”

Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti: “It’s not secret justice, it’s no justice”

But he added: “Prime ministers have a responsibility for national security. We should take every step that is necessary, to keep the country safe, we shouldn’t put our civil liberties at risk by doing so, but where there are gaps that need to be plugged, we need to plug those gaps.”

Mr Clarke says the secret court hearings would only be used in a very small number of very sensitive cases and told the BBC he was sure he could reassure Mr Clegg. He said it would not just be up to the justice secretary to rule on what should be held behind closed doors and a judge “should be able to check that decision by a process similar to that of judicial review… the judge must have the last say.”

But he said he disagreed with Mr Clegg on the issue of coroners’ courts, saying that without the ability to hold private hearings, relevant security service evidence would not be heard at all.

In their report into the proposals, published on Wednesday, MPs and peers on the Joint Committee on Human Rights said the government had not made the case for allowing more court hearings and inquests to be held in secret.

The committee said the “inherently unfair” plan was based on “spurious assertions” about the risk of material being made public and was a “radical departure from long-standing traditions of open justice”.

‘Just woken up to problem’

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights campaign group Liberty, told the BBC that it would change procedures for people bringing a civil claim against public bodies.

“It’s not just the public and the press that would be cleared out of the courtroom, the claimant and their lawyers will be shut out as well. It would allow the authorities, whether it’s the security agencies or the police or whoever, to have a private chat with the judge, and I’m afraid that’s not justice at all.”

She added that powers would not be limited to national security matters – the green paper says the procedure could be triggered by the secretary of state deciding “that certain relevant sensitive material would cause damage to the public interest if openly disclosed”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said while there was an “issue that has to be addressed” about intelligence from foreign governments, the current proposals went too far.

“I think we need to look at a solution that actually meets the problem that exists and doesn’t go far far wider, which is the problem with the government’s proposals.”

He said Mr Clegg had only just “woken up to the problem”, adding: “I hope the government changes course and thinks again.”

Closed hearings involving special advocates are already used in a number of cases, such as deportations on national security grounds and challenges to counter-terrorism control orders. But when the government tried to use it in the damages claim brought by former Guantanamo Bay detainees, the Supreme Court said it had no power to do so in civil claims for damages.



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