Chief prosecutor urged to clarify advice to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams on abuse probe
The Director of Public Prosecutions has been asked to clarify the advice he gave to Gerry Adams when he was the Sinn Fein president's solicitor during the police investigation into his paedophile brother.
Barra McGrory was Gerry Adams' solicitor when in 2007 the Sinn Fein president made a statement to detectives investigating the complaint that his brother Liam had sexually abused his daughter Aine.
He did not tell police that Liam had confessed the crime to him seven years earlier.
TUV leader Jim Allister called on Mr McGrory to "clarify precisely the nature and content of his conversations with Mr Adams" in relation to his client's legal duty not to withhold information from detectives.
At this first police interview, Mr Adams told officers about confronting his brother over Aine's allegations at a meeting in Buncrana in 1987 – when Liam strongly denied the claims – but he did not disclose to detectives that his brother had then confessed to him in 2000 that he had sexually abused Aine.
It was not until his second interview in 2009 that he informed police of Liam's admission to him nine years earlier which he said took place as they walked together in the rain in Dundalk. There have been calls for the Sinn Fein president to now be prosecuted for withholding information.
Attorney General John Larkin is reviewing the public prosecution service's original 2011 decision not to charge Mr Adams.
Mr McGrory played no role in that decision which was taken before his appointment to the office.
The questions posed by the TUV relate to his role as a solicitor six years ago.
At the first trial of his brother in Belfast Crown Court in April, Mr Adams appeared as a prosecution witness.
During cross-examination by defence barrister Eilis McDermott he waived his privilege on his conversations with his solicitor, and gave his account to the court of the legal advice he said he had received from his solicitor in 2007 in advance of his police interview.
TUV leader Mr Allister said Mr McGrory should now address the issue of the legal advice given to the Sinn Fein president about his duty to tell detectives everything he knew about his brother Liam's sexual abuse of Aine.
Mr Allister said: "Now that Gerry Adams has waived the privilege on his conversations with his then solicitor, Mr McGrory, the DPP needs to clarify precisely the nature and content of his conversations with Mr Adams in connection with the Liam Adams' affair, bearing in mind his client's obligations not to withhold information, pursuant to section 5 of the Criminal Law NI Act 1967."
He said that someone occupying the position of chief prosecuting officer must expect that the public will ask such questions.
By his evidence, Mr Adams had brought the advice he was given into the public domain.
A PPS spokeswoman said: "It is inappropriate for the director to make any comment in advance of the conclusion of the Attorney General's review."
Dialogue from first trial sheds more light on issue
Excerpt from evidence given by Gerry Adams at first trial of his brother Liam in early 2013
GA: Gerry Adams
EMcD: Barrister Eilis McDermott
GA: When I gave my solicitor an outline of what had occurred, he advised me ... we will deal with the issue of Buncrana and there would be plenty of time to make a supplementary statement (on Liam's admission to Gerry Adams that he'd abused Aine) if that was required.
EMcD: Your advice from your solicitor then, Mr Adams, in 2007, was that you should withhold important information from the police, who were investigating a very serious crime, a number of very serious crimes?
GA: That wasn't the advice, no.
EMcD: Well your solicitor told you, I thought you just said, that in 2007 you should just tell the police about Buncrana and that there would be plenty of time to tell them anything else?
GA: Well that's different from what you insinuated a moment ago.
EMcD: And you waited then for two years and four months before you decided that you were going to tell the police this?... You had had this information about an alleged confession from your brother in your possession for nine years at this stage?
GA: And I was dealing with his daughter, the alleged victim.
EMcD: And you now say that your solicitor knew about this from June 20, 2007?
GA: Well, when I went to see my solicitor before seeing the police, I gave him an account of what had occurred and my role in it and we then proceeded as I explained.
EMcD: Not only were you withholding information from the police over the nine-year period, but your solicitor, it appears, was withholding information... for two years and four months?
GA: Well, the police had Aine's allegation from 1987, I think.