The Secretary of State has been lambasted by a furious Sinn Fein after he brought a halt to the release of an IRA killer from prison.
Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch accused Owen Paterson of “outrageous interference” in the judicial system after it emerged he is to appeal double killer Martin Corey’s High Court victory over being returned to prison.
Mr Lynch hit out after a court heard that Corey, who won a legal challenge against being returned to prison on Monday, must remain in jail while the Secretary of State appeals against his release.
The Lurgan republican was due to be released on unconditional bail after a judge held that parole commissioners breached his human rights in keeping him behind bars.
But the 61-year-old’s release has been put on hold after it emerged that the ruling is to be challenged.
A judge stayed the bail order until the Court of Appeal convenes today.
Mr Lynch, a Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, urged Mr Paterson to drop the appeal and allow Corey to be released.
“It is totally unacceptable that this fly-by-night British minister, who is not elected by anyone in the North, can imprison someone without placing any evidence or proof before the court,” he said.
“The revoking of licences on the basis of secretive evidence not available to the accused or his solicitor is damaging confidence in the justice system. Owen Paterson should now do the right thing and end this pointless legal appeal.”
Corey received a life sentence in 1973 for murdering two RUC men.
He was freed on licence in 1992, having served 19 years in jail.
In April 2010 the then-Secretary of State Shaun Woodward ordered his recall to prison on the basis of “closed material”.
In August the parole commissioners decided that the revocation of his licence should remain.
His judicial review challenge to the commissioners' decision centred on the alleged secrecy surrounding their reasons.
On Monday Mr Justice Treacy held that there had been a breach of his human rights. He also said the commissioners had misdirected themselves in law.
Mr Justice Treacy ruled that the commissioners should reconsider the matter and directed that Corey should be released on unconditional bail in the meantime.
But lawyers for the Secretary of State sought a stay while an appeal is prepared.
Corey's barrister opposed the request, arguing there was no jurisdiction to grant the application.
But Mr Justice McCloskey said yesterday: “The stay which the court ordered provisionally yesterday will be extended until further order of the Court of Appeal.”
Martin Corey (61) was jailed for life in 1973 for his part in an IRA ambush on two RUC men in Aghalee, Co Antrim. Lurgan man Corey (right) and two others staged a fake road accident. Constable Raymond Wylie and Constable Robert McCauley arrived to help and were shot dead. He was released in June 1992, but was returned to custody in 2010.