Boston project 'unreliable' - lawyer

Published Friday, 06 June 2014
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An American university project used to charge an alleged former IRA commander with aiding and abetting the murder of Disappeared victim Jean McConville is "unreliable and riddled with inaccuracies", a court has heard.

Boston project 'unreliable' - lawyer
Ivor Bell is met by his family after being released from Maghaberry in March. (© Pacemaker)

Ivor Bell's lawyer also claimed some of the Boston College material was disclosed to police in violation of an international treaty.

Peter Corrigan said the Public Prosecution Service should now decide the evidence does not meet the standard for criminal prosecution.

Mrs McConville was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

Bell, 77, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown area of the city, was arrested in March and charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting the murder.

The case against him is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at Boston College in the United States.

Several former paramilitaries were interviewed about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, last year a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville's killing.

It is alleged that Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her.

The veteran republican - who is currently on bail - denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard on Friday that his file will be allocated to a prosecutor within four weeks.

But Mr Corrigan said significant developments about the Boston study raised serious issues of the material being used against his client.

"It's very clear it was an intellectual, academic project, but was riddled with inaccuracies, unreliable and subjective," he contended.

"Any material gleaned from that does not match the rigorous standards required for a criminal [case].

"The PPS [Public Prosecution Service] should take a view that this evidence is unreliable, has not been evaluated properly and should not be the basis of a criminal prosecution."

Turning to the international treaty used to obtain the tapes, he argued that a US court ordered that only material related to the Jean McConville case was to be disclosed to the PSNI.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Bell was questioned for "numerous days" about interviewee Z.

"Throughout that interview material from the start of the Troubles right up to the late '80s was put in contravention of an international treaty direction," Mr Corrigan claimed.

"The American court directed in good faith certain materials and only those materials.

"That has been violated and it has a serious implication on how this court approaches the evidence and an abuse of the process."

Responding to his request for the PPS to carry out a review and provide an update, Judge Bagnall pointed out that a decision has yet to be taken on the prosecution.

Mr Corrigan also confirmed his client plans to rely on an alibi defence.

He added: "The defendant has put forward an account of where he was at the material time and he requested during interviews that the police obtain all military and police logs and records to verify the assertion that he wasn't in Belfast."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
3 Comments
lucylou in belfast wrote (167 days ago):
Are we to believe that the interviewees for the Boston tapes were liars?. If they had not been released until those who took part were dead then I expect these accounts would be presented as the gospel truth.
Michael in East Belfast wrote (168 days ago):
Surprise Surprise!
gerard in belfast wrote (168 days ago):
A quasi-academic flawed project designed to get people to talk about Gerry Adams. Those who organised and participated in this sham should hand their heads in shame. This was never going to deliver justice for the Mc Connell family
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