Boston College IRA tapes case to go to US Supreme Court

Boston College IRA tapes case to go to US Supreme Court
BBC News
31 August 2012

A legal battle to prevent interviews with an IRA bomber from being handed over to police in Northern Ireland is to be taken to the US Supreme Court.

Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre conducted the interviews during a history project for Boston College.

They claimed the move would give foreign police agencies greater power over US citizens than the FBI.

The Police Service of Nothern Ireland (PSNI) is seeking the transcripts as part of an IRA murder investigation.

The taped interviews, with convicted bomber Delores Price, were conducted as part of the Boston College Belfast Project which began in 2001.

Ms Price was among a number of former republican and loyalist paramilitaries who were interviewed about their activities during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, on the condition that their accounts would remain confidential until after their deaths.

The PSNI is seeking access to her transcripts as part of their investigation in the the IRA murder of Jean McConville in 1972, after Ms Price gave an another interview to a newspaper in which she allegedly claimed to have driven the Belfast mother of ten to her death.

In July, a US appeal court ruled that Boston College interviews should be handed over to the PSNI.

Mr Moloney, a jounalist, and Mr McIntyre who is a former IRA member, had applied to the First Circuit Court of Appeal for a rehearing the case, but this was rejected on Friday.

The men said they were “disappointed” but would now apply for a hearing at the US Supreme Court because the case “addresses issues of major constitutional importance for Americans”.

They said the PSNI had applied for access to the interview transcripts under the terms of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the US and the UK.

In a joint statement, the men said their lawyers would argue that “the MLAT bestows upon the PSNI greater powers in relation to the serving of subpoenas in the US than could be exercised by, for instance, the FBI.

“US citizens could challenge a subpoena served by the FBI on First and Fifth Amendment grounds but are precluded from doing so in the case of subpoenas served by foreign powers under an MLAT.”

They added that 62 countries have signed MLATs with the US, and said some of them had “poor human rights records”.

Boston College is also appealing against the decision to hand over the tapes, but separately from the two men.

Its appeal will be heard in Boston on Friday 7 September, and Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre said tapes could “theoretically be handed over to the PSNI” on that date.

The Belfast Project lasted five years and involved academics, historians and journalists.

The researchers have consistantly argued that releasing the documents could risk the lives of people who gave testimonies and damage the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Ms Price was convicted of her part in the car bombing of the Old Bailey courthouse in London on 8 March 1973. The explosion injured more than 200 people.