Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Belfast man cleared of IRA kidnap launches legal challenge

A Belfast man cleared on appeal of involvement in imprisoning a British informer today launched a High Court challenge to being denied compensation.

James O'Carroll was among eight people whose convictions over the IRA kidnapping and interrogation of Sandy Lynch in 1990 have been quashed.

The others, who include former Sinn Fein publicity director Danny Morrison, are expected to receive pay-outs for miscarriages of justice following a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

But Mr O'Carroll has been barred due to the introduction of a two-year time limit in applying for compensation.

His lawyers are seeking to judicially review the Secretary of State's stance, claiming he did not receive correspondence from previous legal representatives explaining the situation.

The 50-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in jail for the false imprisonment of Lynch.

But in October 2008 the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction along with seven other related cases referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Their acquittals were based on the contents of a secret intelligence dossier.

Lawyers had questioned whether the confidential documents were being kept under wraps to protect an informer.

Reference was made at the time to Freddie Scappaticci, the west Belfast man who denies claims that he was the top British spy within the IRA, codenamed Stakeknife.

Following the quashing order the chances of receiving compensation were boosted by the redefining of the test for payments to those wrongfully convicted.

In 2011 the Supreme Court removed a requirement to prove innocence beyond reasonable doubt.

Counsel for Mr O'Carroll, Ronan Lavery QC, set out today how he was being blocked by an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act which brought in the two-year limit for applications.

He argued that it was implausible to suggest his client did receive notification and ignored it.

According to Mr Lavery there are exceptional circumstances in Mr O'Carroll's case which mean he should be awarded compensation.

The court was told that assessments are believed to be underway on applications lodged by others whose convictions were quashed at the same time.

Tony McGleenan QC, for the Secretary of State, contended that insufficient reasons have been given for making an exception.
Mr Justice Treacy then agreed to adjourn the hearing for more details to be provided. ends


 

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