Arthurs’ Challenge to Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 Ruling Begins

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.

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  • Cynic

    Is he paying for this himself or, as usual, are the taxpayers paying the bill?

    Perhaps given Cherie’s strong moral convictions and Tony’s deep Christian beliefs Matrix will do it pro bono?

  • Michaelhenry

    if this man is innocent, why should he pay himself.

  • Rory Carr

    Presumably, Cynic, like any defendant he will be qualify for legal aid if, as in the case of any other citizen, his means do not disqualify him from receiving such assistance. You might be surprised to find the number of high profile cases where defendants that the public might have been assumed to have been quite wealthy qualified for the receipt of legal aid.

    Are you opposed to legal aid in general, Cynic or only in the case ofRepublican defendants?

  • TheHorse

    Why should’nt the taxpayer pay it after all it is the government who are pursuing the case. Was he not already aquitted before on the same charges. Is it a case with the PPS of “If at first you dont succeed try and try again”. Maybe they are waiting on the right Judge to come along, one that will be just like the good old days, find him guilty and fill in the judgement book later.

  • Rory Carr

    Apologies for the surfeit of “beens” in my first paragraph.

    Innocence is presumed, Michaelhenry. In any case the Crown does not attempt to recover the costs of legal aid even where a defendant is found guilty on the basis that all are entitled to legal representation whatever the outcome of the trial and indeed legal aid may well continue to be available throughout a lengthy appeals process of a defendant found guilty at trial.

  • Is Mr Arthurs one of those staunch supporters of socialism who have miraculously made a fortune during the troubles?

    If he is I sincerely hope he does have to pay his own costs, because one thing is certain: the lawyers are going to love this.

  • TheHorse

    Pippakin maybe you did not read the first paragragh

    “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”.

    Yes and Im sure the lawyers are going to love it.

  • Ah Mr Baker. I should of course have looked for the name of the blogger first…Actually I not only read the first paragraph I read your links.

    We appear to find ourselves in agreement, how very unusual, and almost certainly short lived.

  • Sorry The Horse my reply was of course meant for you. Its just I have grown to expect such responses from someone else…

  • TheHorse

    The man has already been aquitted once Pippakin because there was no evidence, why should the taxpayer have to pay for the governments attempts to exact revenge.

  • He cannot be tried twice for the same offence, not if he was acquitted. e only way round it is for new charges. In any event if his money was dishonestly come by, and I realise he may be in the company of bankers here, Im damned if I think any taxpayer should foot the bill for it.

    He was acquitted though. The judge threw the charges out for lack of evidence, that is not an acquittal, and leaves the PPS capable of bringing fresh charges if they have the evidence.

  • TheHorse

    Is this the same PPS that ruled they had not got enough evidence to bring the loyalist murderers of the schoolboy Thomas Devlin to court. How many of the big bankers done exactly the same thing as Brian Arthurs did the government pursue them or compensate them.

  • The Horse

    It is still too soon to say no bankers will be charged. Any charges would be specialised and require more accountants than detectives. Time will tell on this.

    I am not necessarily in favour of the law, but loyalists are not the only ones to benefit from the ‘lack of evidence’ excuse.

    The Thomas Devlin case was an absolute disgrace and I hope the lawyers concerned paid with their jobs. His family are fully entitled to any compensation they claim, although it will not be much comfort.

  • Aldamir

    I had a read of the 2008 report. I think that it is unlikely that Arthurs was “acquitted” as the report states, as the person making the ruling was the District Judge, who only has the power to acquit/convict in summary cases, not in Crown Court cases such as this.

    What appears to have happened is that Arthurs was “discharged”, this means that the PPS were unable to put together committal papers within a reasonable time and therefore the judge refused to remand the defendant any further. This is not an acquittal and it does not prevent a defendant being tried subsequently if the PPS get their act together.