Belfast Telegraph

Nolan's documentary highlights injustice of Maguire Seven case

By Staff Reporter

BBC NI presenter Stephen Nolan tonight fronts a compelling documentary about one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice to have taken place during the Troubles - the case of the Maguire Seven.

The broadcaster described 'A Great British Injustice' as "one of the most powerful projects I have ever worked on".

In December 1974, Annie Maguire, her husband Patrick and teenage sons Vincent and Patrick, were arrested, along with four other adults, on suspicion of involvement in the Guildford IRA pub bombings.

Despite searches of the Maguires' home, no bomb-making gear was ever found.

Her son John was released and not charged, leaving the Maguire Seven, as they became known, to be charged based on the discovery of what was claimed to be the explosive substance nitro-glycerine on their hands.

All seven were convicted, with Annie and her husband jailed for 14 years each.

The Maguire Seven all served their sentences. One man, Guiseppe Conlon, died in prison in 1980 before the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.

In 1991, after a lengthy campaign, all seven had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal after the forensic evidence was discredited.

Last night Mr Nolan told the Belfast Telegraph: "I've never made a film before that has made me so angry. How could the UK criminal justice system have got it so wrong? And in doing so inflict so much pain on one Irish family?"

"Patrick Maguire was a 14-year-old child sent to an adult prison for a crime he didn't commit.

"He remembers the day he stood naked in jail among adult prisoners, trembling with fear, crying out for his mother.

"His mum, Annie, was vilified in the Press and labelled a 'bomb-maker'.

"Annie - and her family - were never involved in the 1974 IRA Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings.

"I was seething on behalf of the Maguire family by the end of it.

"What is striking is the dignity with which Annie Maguire tells her story.

"She was no bomb-maker. She was a gentle, caring, beautiful mother. And, astonishingly, she still is.

"Annie Maguire, somehow, has managed to not hate. And that is what makes her testimony even more powerful.

"She tells her story with a whisper - of how the British state ripped apart her entire family."

But while Annie appears on the surface to be undamaged, Patrick Maguire is obviously broken, Mr Nolan said.

"How could he not be?

"That terrible experience ripped into his childhood and brutalised his 14-year-old soul.

"He was isolated from his mum and dad. Then, he was wrongfully convicted.

"The warm, caring Maguire family let me into their inner circle to hear first-hand the story and lasting trauma of one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history."

A Great British Injustice: BBC One Northern Ireland tonight at 9pm

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