Adams – unfair trial guaranteed

Sinn Féin while opposed to a few elements of the British Justice system in the north have long been committed to supporting it, supposedly holding it to account but in the main accepting its validity. In recent weeks they have been putting pressure on the PSNI to get the finger out and extradite Liam Adams from the south to face charges under it.

They have also been claiming coverage of this case could result in Liam Adams being unable to get a fair trial as the following from Gerry Adams makes clear.

Much of it is also dangerous and not in the interests of the victim in light of a pending court case for extradition which is likely to see media reportage used as a rationale by a defence which will argue that Liam Adams cannot expect a fair trial in the north.

However, the Justice system that SF (critically ?) endorse ensures that Liam Adams is virtually guaranteed not to receive a fair trial – or at least one with a jury of his peers. The Justice and Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2007 [pdf] ensures that Adams with a previous conviction for IRA activity will receive a non-jury trial certificate.

1 Issue of certificate

(1) This section applies in relation to a person charged with one or more indictable
offences (“the defendant”).

(2) The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland may issue a certificate
that any trial on indictment of the defendant (and of any person committed for
trial with the defendant) is to be conducted without a jury if—
(a) he suspects that any of the following conditions is met, and
(b) he is satisfied that in view of this there is a risk that the administration
of justice might be impaired if the trial were to be conducted with a

(3) Condition 1 is that the defendant is, or is an associate (see subsection (9)) of, a
person who—
(a) is a member of a proscribed organisation (see subsection (10)), or
(b) has at any time been a member of an organisation that was, at that time,
a proscribed organisation.

Somehow I doubt SF will die in a ditch to fight for Liam’s rights under the system they legitimise.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m unsure as to what you are saying. Is it that there won’t be a trial or that he will get a trial which will be unfair?

  • Mark McGregor


    He will get a trial but the media coverage won’t factor as he will get a juryless trial.

  • Jaggers


    Like #1,Joe I’m unsure what you’re saying – would a non-jury trial be intrinsically unfair? Also the extract from the Act gives the relevant authority discretion to direct a non-jury trial 1 (2) DPPNI may…

  • Mark McGregor

    Jaggers, Joe,

    SF/Adams are saying it may be claimed Liam Adams will not get a fair trial due to media coverage, which interestingly could have been compounded by Gerry going public with his belief of Liam’s guilt.

    However, SF are ignoring the fact he is most likely going to face a juryless trial. Something they previously (and in Brian Arthurs case, currently) flagged as illegitimate.

    They are essentially calling for Liam Adams to be extradited to face a juryless trial while complaining about media coverage.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks for the explanation, Mark.

  • Alias

    Mark, that’s not how it works under the EAW. It relies on “uniform” legal standards under the principle of mutual recognition. He would have to face a trial under the same terms that would apply in the arresting state.

  • joeCanuck

    The Republic has a special Court too where non-jury trials are heard. Slab Murphy will be there in a while.

  • Jaggers

    Thanks for the explanation, Mark and welcome to Alias who asserted on another thread today that media coverage could not prejudice the success of an EAW application (interesting to see what transpires with the case in the Republic’s High Court in a couple of weeks). Is that still your position Alias?

  • Mark McGregor


    Can’t see anything in the Framework that supports that.

    Maybe I missed it, happy to be corrected.

  • Mark McGregor


    Had another good read and the only reference I see to mutual recognition in the instrument is:

    2. Member States shall execute any European arrest warrant on the basis of the principle of mutual recognition and in accordance with the provisions of this Framework Decision.

  • slappymcgroundout

    The prosecution of Liam Adams will deny him liberty without due process of law. His daughter first spoke with law enforcement sometime in 1987. It is now 2010.

    The same with respect to no jury. That exception you all have under the cited law, well, one more reason to make revolution. And you have gone backwards. 5 July 1641:

    WHEREAS by the great charter many times confirmed in parliament, it is enacted, That no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseised of his freehold or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed or exiled or otherwise destroyed, and that the King will not pass upon him, or condemn him; but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land…

    You all have heard of the Magna Carta, yes? That is the charter referred to above. So, as I said, you’ve gone backwards. And you have no liberty if the state can class your organization as a proscribed organization. You think it’s fine here, but what will you say when it’s the Scouts who are made a proscribed organization? You’ve already conceded the point that your government can proscribe organizations. Now to end with a complaint made by some other revolutionaries, who presumably would have been made a proscribed organization:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury

    What is it that the French say? Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose…

  • Paul

    Well its not going to be long until the arrest warrant is ready so this scandal will be a round for weeks.It doesn’t matter what trial Adams brother has they the sinners will complain come what may anyway.They always do its the media coverage they don’t like because its exposed Gerry Adams.

  • Alias

    “Implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters presupposes that Member States have trust in each others’ criminal justice systems.”

    This Member State (Ireland) does not have trust in non-jury trials for criminal cases involving rape, only allowing non-jury trials in a special criminal court by three judges for terrorist and organised crime offences. The judicial authority in this state would refuse to surrender Mr Adams if the judicial authority in the requesting jurisdiction intended to prosecute him under a procedure that was not “uniform” with this state: “The national courts apply their own national criminal law to the facts before them and base their judgments on that source of law.”

    “(6) The European arrest warrant provided for in this Framework Decision is the first concrete measure in the field of criminal law implementing the principle of mutual recognition which the European Council referred to as the “cornerstone” of judicial cooperation.”

    The EAW is based on the Principle of Mutual Recognition, and the “mechanism of the European arrest warrant is based on a high level of confidence between Member States.” The requested state must have confidence that the accused will be prosecuted under a system that is similar to its own system, and only adopt the role of an enforcement agency for the requesting state because it can rely on the regularity of the system within the requesting State.

    If the UK does intend to prosecute Mr Adams under the Act that you suggest, then that should be the defence that Mr Adams uses in this jurisdiction to oppose his surrender. However, the UK would only do that if it did not actually want the judicial authority in this jurisdiction to surrender him but wanted to go through the motions of requesting his surrender for other reasons.

    Keep in mind that that is just my unqualified opinion. 😉

  • Alias

    Incidentally, why would the judicial authority in the UK have reminded Gerry Adams and Aine Tyrell of their legal obligations under the Contempt of Court Act not to engage in public comment adverse to the accused – obligations that are only applicable in jury trials where jurors (or potential jurors might be influenced by media reporting of such comment – if that judicial authority planned to prosecute the defendant without a jury?

    The answer of course is that they would not have done.

  • Mark McGregor


    Like youself I’n not claiming to be a constitutional expert but the Offences Against the State Act allows for any offence to be tried in a ‘special court’.

    Whenever while this Part of this Act is in force the Government is satisfied that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order in relation to offences of any particular class or kind or under any particular enactment, the Government may by order declare that offences of that particular class or kind or under that particular enactment shall be scheduled offences for the purposes of this Part of this Act.

  • Mark McGregor

    Therefore if it is possible for the offence to be tried in a juryless court in the south, Adams can/will face a diplock court in the SF endorsed northern legal system.

  • Alias

    Err, no. That cannot be used to arbitrarily deprive a citizen of trial by jury of his peers. It means that the government can make an executive order declaring particular offences subject to the order, not particular cases. So far the amendments to the act are for organised crime and terrorists offences.

    We don’t have a rampage of rapists on the loose who threaten the stability of the state…

    In addition, the measure is seen as a temporary provision with the State rescinding the order:

    “Whenever the Government is satisfied that the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order in relation to offences of any particular class or kind or under any particular enactment which are for the time being scheduled offences for the purposes of this Part of this Act can be secured through the medium of the ordinary courts, the Government may by order declare that offences of that particular class or kind or under that particular enactment shall, upon the making of such order, cease to be scheduled offences for the purposes of this Part of this Act.”

  • Mark McGregor


    You are confirming my point. The south like the north can try any case for any offence under a juryless trial if they see fit.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Alias is barking up the wrong tree. Many if not most European states try criminal offences without juries. It’s not a bar to removal.

  • Mark McGregor


    Offences Against the State Act. Seems almost identical to provision under the Justice and Security Act.

  • Alias

    Mark, I am not confirming your point but refuting it.

    The Offences Against the State Act, 1939 only allows the state to declare particular classes of offences eligible to be tried without a jury in situations where there is a grave threat to public order, and does not allow the state to declare particular cases to be tried without a jury.

    There are only two classes of offences so designated under the Act: terrorist offences and organised crime offences.

    There the Irish state does not allow other criminal offences such as rape to be tried without a jury. That is the fact of the matter.

    Jimmy, and you are meowing up the wrong tree: the requesting state must have a uniform system with the requested state as a condition of confidence, so it doesn’t matter one iota whether or not other Member States have a system that is uniform with the requesting state: it only matters that the requested has a system that is uniform with the requesting state.

    This Member State (Ireland) does not allow its citizens to be tried for sexual offences without a jury. What France or other allows is not relevant since the UK is not requesting the surrender of Mr Adams from France or other but from Ireland.

  • Alias

    Mark, what you need to show is that the Irish state does allow sexual offences to be tried without a jury or that an Act exists that would allow sexual offences to be designated as offences that can be tried without a jury.

    Under what situations do you think that sexual offences would need to be designated as non-jury trials in order to provide the “effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace”?

    Do we have a rampage of dangerous rapists on the loose who threaten juries at their will making it impossible to administrate justice? Not that I noticed…

    Wedo, however, have subversives and organised criminals who can intimidate jurors thereby rendering these [b]classes of offences[/b] subject to special criminal courts.

  • Alias

    One last point: it is more correct to say that the Irish state does not allow its citizens to be tried for the offences that Mr Adams is accused of without the accused having the right to a jury.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I never understood this stuff about Diplock, due to the point Jimmy Sands raised above. Jury trials aren’t normal throughout most European states.

    If I was a republican and I was caught red handed planting a bomb somewhere, I’d want to be tried by a panel of judges, knowing that a jury would almost certainly comprise a majority of people opposed to violence, many of them unionists, whereas a judge would be required to give full deference to the law and would be subject to legal oversight himself.

  • tacapall

    whereas a judge would be required to give full deference to the law and would be subject to legal oversight himself.
    Posted by Comrade Stalin on Jan 16, 2010 @ 08:38 PM

    We have see enough from the “Diplock System” and The English legal system to conclude that Judges are controlled by their employers

  • As far as I know there is no precedent for a trial relating to sex abuse being tried without a jury.

    As for the British judicial system, they seem to me to be a pretty independent bunch. The British government have lost numerous cases, the most notable being the number of times they attempted to get the Gurkhas declared unable to claim residence in the UK.

  • tacapall

    Government and establishment are two different things, when it comes to forien policy, the government comes second.