'IRA sympathiser' John Kerry can't be trusted to comment on EU referendum after supporting IRA gunman, says Jacob Rees-Mogg
United States secretary of state John Kerry was a "terrorist sympathiser" who blocked the deportation of IRA activists and so should not be trusted when calling for Britain to remain in the EU, an MP has said.
Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg said Mr Kerry "held up" an extradition treaty which would have allowed prosecution of the activists in Northern Ireland, claiming the province's justice system does not work effectively.
He was referring to the extradition row in the mid-1980s over IRA gunman Joe Doherty.
Doherty had been in the IRA's notorious 'M60' active-service unit, carrying out hit-and-run attacks on Army and police across Belfast.
In 1981 he was sentenced to life for the murder of SAS captain Herbert Westmacott - but escaped from Crumlin Road jail and was a fugitive in the US until the FBI arrested him.
In December 1984 the New York federal court denied his extradition on the grounds that his terrorist acts were 'political'.
But attempts to remove that loophole were opposed by John Kerry, then senator.
Mr Kerry said earlier this month it was "profoundly" in America's interests that the UK voted to remain in the European Union.
Mr Rees-Mogg today urged MPs to ignore his comments, saying he was "no friend of Britain".
Intervening during the second reading of the EU Membership (Audit of Costs and Benefits) Bill, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "The person representing the United States government who has called for us to stay is John Kerry, a former senator, who in the 1980s showed himself to be no friend of the United Kingdom but a sympathiser with the IRA, when he held up a treaty allowing for the deportation of IRA activists from the United States to the Untied Kingdom, saying that the justice system in Northern Ireland didn't work effectively.
"He is no friend of Britain and has been in the past a sympathiser with terrorists."
Joe Doherty was eventually deported to Northern Ireland in 1992 after fighting extradition for nine years.
He was then imprisoned in the Maze until being released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Belfast Telegraph Digital