Human rights watchdog launches High Court challenge over Marian Price release hearing
A human rights watchdog has launched a High Court challenge over being denied access to hearings on whether to release Old Bailey bomber Marian Price.
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) wanted to attend the Northern Ireland Parole Commissioners' proceedings as an observer.
Lawyers for the body claimed today that the decision to refuse its request was unlawful and should be judicially reviewed.
Even though Price has since been released from custody, they rejected claims that the case is now academic.
Barrister Dessie Hutton, for CAJ, argued that it forms part of a wider policy of refusing applications to attend Parole Commissioner hearings.
Mr Hutton told the court his client had particular concerns about the case of Price, who is also known as Marian McGlinchey.
The 59-year-old veteran republican spent two years behind bars before being freed in May.
Price served a jail sentence along with her late sister Dolours for their part in the IRA car bomb attack on London's Old Bailey courts in 1973 in which one man died and more than 200 people were injured.
Her licence had been revoked in 2011 by the then Secretary of State Owen Patterson.
Mr Hutton set out how the CAJ had applied to be present as an observer at a number of hearings held before the Parole Commissioners determined she could be released again.
Permitting its attendance would have ensured an additional layer of transparency and accountability, he contended.
Although information discussed in the hearings is confidential and cannot be disclosed, the barrister claimed being able to sit in on them would help form opinions.
Donal Sayers, responding for the Parole Commissioners, insisted that the challenge was academic.
He also pointed out that in the case of Price, she was represented by a firm of solicitors along with senior and junior counsel.
Stressing the privacy surrounding the hearings, Mr Sayers added: "It's difficult to see what a watchdog who would be unable to bark could have added to the proceedings."
Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy reserved his decision on whether to grant leave to seek a judicial review.
Belfast Telegraph Digital