Intercept evidence could convict terrorists, says former SoS Murphy

707 views

As a  curtain raiser to Lady Justice Heather Hallett’s  review of OTRs’  “ administrative scheme” due out tomorrow (Thursday), the mild-mannered former Labour secretary of state Paul Murphy has told the separate  inquiry into the affair by the Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee that more convictions might have been obtained if the rules of evidence were changed.

“Now my own personal view, which I expressed when I was chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (at Westminster), was it should be allowed because the times that I have read names, right across the spectrum in Northern Ireland, of people who had done terrible things but couldn’t be prosecuted because there was no evidence allowable was very often very distressing and I would often ask the question, ‘why on earth can’t we prosecute this person?’.

And we couldn’t because the evidence gathered in the way it was could not be used in courts.

“Which is why I say I think it is wrong not to be able to use intercept, which most countries can.”

You can see the evidence session here.

Just another factor that makes it more difficult to achieve a clean sheet on the Troubles?

, , , , ,

  • Tacapall

    Just in case people have forgotten what the definition of intercept means regarding the above topic –

    “to see or overhear (a message, transmission, etc., meant for another): We intercepted the enemy’s battle plan”

    Etc means a lot of things like “conversation” or Message written on cigarette papers.

    Quite a few people have been charged recently and in the past using “intercept” evidence.

    What a load of BS.

  • Tacapall

    BTW anyone who is trying to post.

    Shusssshhhh.

    Doooonnnntttt say anything that might actually be relevant to this topic. MI5 is watching and Slugger dont want no hassle with the thought police.

  • Michael Henry

    Wonder if Mr Murphy wants this new evidence to arrest those English who killed in Ireland-

  • mickfealty

    You might try just moderating your language Tac. Disqus is taking a dislike to some of the words you used, and I’m inclined to agree with her.

  • Tacapall

    Fair enough Mick feel free to delete my account. Censorship and myself dont go together.

  • mickfealty

    It’s your account Tac!!

  • Tacapall

    Maybe its not yourself Mick, so apologies in advance, but I’ve already had one post censored and not displayed for “not saying the right words”. What way can you tell the truth but the right words.

    Can you explain to me “a simpleton” how the last batch of leading so called dissidents were charged and convicted of alleged offensives without using “intercept evidence” ?

  • mickfealty

    What Mr Murphy is saying is intelligence tells me enough to know what some now very powerful people across the two communities actually did.

    Intercept as he is speaking about it refers to material gathered without prior reference to the court. In other words it’s the state freelancing outside the normal parameters of law. This is the primary reason why the courts will not recognise it under the rules of evidence, which are notoriously strict.

    There is no doubt that some of that intelligence was used at the time and is currently being used to acquire evidence that is admissible in court.

  • Tacapall

    So are you saying in layman terms, Yes, “intercept evidence” is already, and has been used in the past, to convict people or charge people ie like I said the last three leading so called dissidents, Alec McCrory, Harry Fitzimmions and Colin Duffy. The dogs in the street know what evidence is being used to hold these people so its a little bit “puzzling” why Paul Murphy is using the words “more convictions might have been obtained if the rules of evidence were changed”

    What I am asking is are those people above being held in prison using evidence that is not admissible at this point of time in a court of law ?

  • mickfealty

    No, I’m saying it cannot be used as evidence, but it may have been and still be used to gain such legally admissible evidence.

    Holding people is one thing, but charging people purely on intel is not good enough for the DPP or the courts. The former SoS is saying he would like that to change.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Tacapall, the British legal system (and that other one down south that was built on a British foundation) works on very precise legal definitions of meanings of words, so there are a lot of weasel words that can turn a court action one way or another. The censoring sites like Disqus do on what we write is taking this into account and attempting to avoid anything that might expose the poster of the site to aggressive legal action from a person or institution mentioned. Its a lot freer in the USA, but I’ve had a friend there whose harp building was slagged off all over the net by a malicious enemy, and she could do nothing about it.

    The truth is that the material is being used, but that no one is supposed to know. So if it points to some way that, fitting with British legal strictures, the evidence can be put together, everyone can pretend that it was come on in an entirely legal manner.

    The last book of Swift’s “Gullivers Travels” describes a state run by entirely by rational horses, “Houyhnhnms” a name that means ‘the perfection of nature’. They rule wild and feckless humans called ‘yahoos’. I’d always thought that Swift was satirising not only the way the British elite saw themselves, but in particular the way the new Irish Planter elite of his day saw themselves and it should not pass notice that “rule by horses”, if translated into ancient greek, might produce something similar to “hypocrisy”. Plus ça change et moins ça change…….

  • MainlandUlsterman

    MH,
    Well why not – we’re all equal under the law. Something like 90 percent of Troubles killings were by terrorists though, so presumably most of the work on clearing up the 3,000 still unsolved Troubles murders will be looking at terrorists. In particular, Irish Republicans, who carried out around two-thirds of the murders. I can see why some who are sympathetic to the killers – their families perhaps and the odd nut-job ideologue – might be reluctant to have intercept evidence adduced. But for the rest of us in mainstream society, the number of unsolved murders is a huge open wound.

    It’s nice to hear Murphy was as moved as the rest of us by the injustice done to Northern Irish people by Republican and Loyalist killers, exacerbated by the massive dearth of prosecutions for them (especially against Republicans who enjoyed a tiny conviction rate). I’m sure we’d all like to see those people pay their debt to society behind bars in the normal way.

  • Michael Henry

    If there is enough proved evidence for a killing before 1998 then that Republican will serve two years- it’s what the people voted yes to and I hope that suits your debt to Society- the British government never put their RUC UDR Brit army members under the GFA -so if there is enough proved evidence against them then they will have to serve their full prison term- all is fair in love Peace and war-

  • Mister_Joe

    Was there really such a dearth of prosecutions? I believe that about 19,000 “Republicans” were incarcerated along with a few thousand “Loyalists”.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, in relation to murder. There was a large number of prosecutions but mainly for lesser offences. The figure I’ve seen quoted for unsolved (i.e. no conviction) Troubles murders is 3,000+. That is, the vast majority of them. If my wife were murdered by someone, I might be a bit pleased the murderer got caught for firearms possession or paramilitary membership but it’s not really justice is it?

    On the Loyalist point, murders by Loyalists were twice as likely to lead to a conviction than those by Republicans. But there are still a lot of unprosecuted murders by both lots of thugs. And yes some by rogue security force personnel too (on a much, much, much smaller scale).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    does that sound fair to you?

  • Mister_Joe

    Fair enough. I didn’t realise that.

  • Michael Henry

    Yes it is fair MU- it was one of the many reasons why I voted yes for the GFA- I read the words not the hype-

  • mickfealty

    That 3000 figure was quoted by Haass but it is inaccurate and therefore highly misleading. The actual figure for unsolved murders is much closer to 1200.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thanks Mick and apologies to Mister Joe in particular for inadvertently recycling a dodgy stat – I’d looked it up and seen it quoted in so many ‘reputable’ places I’d assumed it must be right (though I must admit it did sound a remarkably large figure). 1200 sounds much more like it. Still a huge number … about a third of Troubles murders unsolved. But Radio 4’s More Or Less should do a programme on the Troubles ;-)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It was the deal – I have a well-thumbed copy of the GFA too – but whether that was fair or not is another question. To pretty much everyone except the terrorists and their apologists, the prison release element was unjust and wrong but something we were willing to swallow if it meant an end to the “Armed Struggle” – but it pushed us, on the unionist side at least, to our absolute limits (and turned many off the GFA completely).

    For the bare majority of unionists like me who hung on, it was imperative that this really was it, and there were no big nasty surprises to come (even if there were outstanding issues to be resolved). Hence why SF foot-dragging over decommissioning was such an issue and gave the DUP the upper hand over the UUP (part of SF’s strategy also, to shaft moderate unionists and encourage unionist hardliners). And hence why OTRs is such an issue now.

    We had a right to expect issues like that would be resolved within the spirit of the GFA, i.e, transparently, by cross-community agreement, with all relevant parties consulted. Especially where the issue had been expressly discussed with the parties – then the government goes off and does a private deal with one party without telling everyone else. Really it beggars belief. Anyone who cares about stable, open and fair politics in Northern Ireland having a future needs to stand up now and make it clear this is not acceptable.

  • mickfealty

    The fact that Haass not only bought it but ‘RTed’ it gives you some idea of just how little independent research resource he had when he came to Belfast…

  • Mister_Joe

    Interesting that at the trial of 3 dissidents it was revealed today in Court that the charges against them were instituted following a “secretly recorded” telephone conservation. Isn’t that the sort of “intelligence” that we are discussing?