Belfast Telegraph

Man loses legal bid over 150 searches by PSNI

BY Alan Erwin

A man stopped and searched more than 150 times under anti-terrorism legislation has lost a High Court challenge to the police practice.

Stephen Ramsey was seeking a judicial review of the powers used to repeatedly detain him.

His lawyers claimed the procedure interfered with his rights to privacy and liberty under European law.

But a judge dismissed his case after ruling that a new code of practice "plugged the gap" identified in an earlier case which found similar operations targeting a former IRA hunger striker and a brother-in-law of Martin McGuinness to be unlawful.

Mr Ramsey, from the Creggan area of Londonderry, claims he has been stopped 156 times since 2008 under the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007. Notes from some of the incidents stated they were due to suspected dissident republican links or as a result of confidential briefings.

He was never arrested and denies involvement in any illegal organisation or political party.

The court heard he has no convictions for paramilitary activity.

His legal challenge focused only on incidents alleged to have occurred since the code of practice was introduced in May last year.

Counsel for Mr Ramsey contended that police had continued to breach their powers since then.

It was claimed that the procedure was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Part of his case centred on a Court of Appeal ruling last year which identified a lack of adequate safeguards against potential abuse of the system in the cases of Bernard Fox and Marvin Canning.

Mr Canning, from the Glendara area of Derry, claimed powers used to stop and question him up to 100 times were incompatible with his right to privacy. The 55-year-old, who is related to Deputy First Minister through marriage, alleged that PSNI officers were sometimes oppressive and confrontational.

Mr Ramsey's lawyer, Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, said he would study the verdict before deciding whether to mount an appeal.

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