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Colin Duffy launches bid over possible covert surveillance of legal consultations

By Alan Erwin

Published 15/03/2016

Colin Duffy
Colin Duffy

High-profile dissident republican Colin Duffy has launched High Court proceedings over a failure to confirm his legal consultations are not being bugged.

The 48-year-old Lurgan man is challenging the British Government for allegedly refusing to provide assurances that the security services are not subjecting his meetings with lawyers to covert surveillance.

He was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the Home Office stance at a hearing in Belfast on Tuesday.

Duffy, of Forest Glade in the Co Armagh town, is currently out on bail fighting attempts to have him stand trial on charges linked to an alleged bid to kill police in Belfast.

He is one of three men accused of belonging to an IRA grouping, and attempting to murder members of the PSNI.

They face further counts of possessing firearms and ammunition, and conspiring with to murder security force members.

The alleged offences are connected to a gun attack on a police convoy in the north of the city.

A PSNI Land Rover and two accompanying vehicles came under fire on the Crumlin Road in December 2013.

Duffy; 54-year-old Alex McCrory, from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast; and 47-year-old Henry Fitzsimons, of no fixed address, are currently resisting prosecution attempts to have them returned for trial.

Separate legal proceedings are now underway in an effort to gain assurances that the security services are not listening in to Duffy's legal consultations.

In court today counsel for the Secretary of State acknowledged arguable points had been raised in the case.

On that basis Lord Justices Gillen, Weatherup and Weir granted leave to apply for a full judicial review.

They listed the case for a further hearing in May to decide if the issues should be dealt with by the court, or instead by an Investigatory Powers Tribunal set up to monitor surveillance authorised under the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

Duffy's solicitor later set out the reasons for taking the action.

Paul Pierce, of KRW Law, said: "We want an assurance that if there's covert surveillance being conducted, and that involves monitoring a person's legal consultations, that it's being properly authorised under RIPA.

"We still have concerns about the whole process because it's shrouded in secrecy, with no way of knowing how that authorisation is sought and what information is put before the surveillance commissioner who ultimately has to make the decision to authorise bugging."

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