“He will be considering a civil action against the secretary of state for this illegal detention.”

The Irish News reports that yesterday “alleged Real IRA leader” Terry McCafferty was released from Maghaberry Prison after the Sentence Review Commissioners ruled his detention illegal on the basis that the case against him was unreliable. McCafferty had been released on licence in November 2008, half-way through a 12-year sentence for possesion of explosives, but, as noted at the time, in December 2008 the Secretary of State revoked his parole licence and he was re-arrested at Belfast International Airport. Since then there has been a legal battle over the case, which included a December 2009 Court of Appeal ruling rejecting a legal challenge to the decision to revoke McCafferty’s licence. From today’s Irish News.

As part of that legal battle the attorney general appointed a special advocate to represent McCafferty at hearings which he was not allowed to attend because of sensitive intelligence material presented to the commission by security agencies. The case took a dramatic turn earlier this month when the special advocate announced he was withdrawing from the case, claiming he was not being allowed to properly represent the alleged dissident. However, McCafferty’s lawyer Paul Pierce was last night informed that the sentence review commission had recommended the prisoner’s immediate release. Welcoming the move, Mr Pierce said: “My client has been held in prison without any valid evidence for the last 15 months. “He will be considering a civil action against the secretary of state for this illegal detention.”