“a sealed envelope containing the commission’s reasons..”

Interesting detail from this Irish News frontpage story today, [subs req for now] and mentioned in the daily newspaper round-up on the BBC here. Sinn Féin’s former publicity director Danny Morrison looks set to have his 1991 conviction for false imprisonment of Alexander ‘Sandy’ Lynch overturned, following the intervention of the CCRC, despite his previous failed attempts to do so.

Earlier this year the 55-year-old and co-accused Gerard Hodgins had their cases referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice. However, in a highly unusual move the commission refused to publicly explain its reasons for referring either man’s case back to the Court of Appeal. Instead a sealed envelope containing the commission’s reasons was presented to the Court of Appeal but never opened.

Only the commission and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) are aware of the reasons for Mr Morrison’s conviction being referred back to the appeal court. Previous attempts by Mr Morrison and Mr Hodgins to have their convictions overturned were rejected by the courts. However, last Friday the PPS unexpectedly informed the Court of Appeal that it would not oppose the latest appeal. The two men are expected to have their convictions officially overturned at a hearing on October 3. A PPS spokesman last night confirmed that it would not contest the appeal.

The report also notes the denials of involvement in the case by Freddie Scappaticci.

In 2003 west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci publicly denied that he was the British army agent known as ‘Stakeknife’.

He denied having tipped off police that Mr Morrison was to visit the house on the Lenadoon estate where Mr [Sandy] Lynch was being held prisoner by the IRA.

Mr Morrison said he had gone to the house to hold a press conference at which Mr Lynch would admit to being an informer.

Rusty has noted previously journalist and author Greg Harkin’s view of the options available to the PPS in this case

Once there, there are two options for the Crown – a re-trial, which would expose the role of agents in the case, giving official and public confirmation to the roles of Scappaticci and the second IRA man as informers and chief prosecution witness Lynch as a double murderer. Or the Crown agrees to drop all charges and Morrison’s conviction is quashed. Few would be surprised if the second option is preferred.