The Irish News reports that “prominent Co Tyrone republican” Brian Arthurs’ legal challenge to the ruling that he should stand trial in a non-jury court, on charges of converting criminal property and obtaining a money transfer by deception, began today. The original case against Arthurs collapsed in August 2008 when the judge ruled that the Public Prosecution Service had failed to provide any evidence to the court.
The non-jury trial ruling was made under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, introduced by then-Secretary of State Peter Hain and renewed by NI Justice Minister Paul Goggins in June 2009.
As the Irish News notes
It is being seen as an important legal test case with Secretary of State Shaun Woodward announcing that he will be represented at the hearing.
In January, the north’s most senior judge Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled that Arthurs was entitled to challenge the legislation, stating that the case “is the first opportunity this court has had to take a good hard look at how statutory provisions apply in this jurisdiction”.
The report also notes
Some of Britain and Ireland’s leading legal brains are due to take part in the case.
Arthurs will be represented by London barrister Raza Hussain QC, from Cherie Booth’s Matrix chambers.
Adds To clarify that would be Cherie Booth, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.