Injunction stops PSNI taking Dolours Price Boston College tapes

Injunction stops PSNI taking Dolours Price Boston College tapes
A court order granted yesterday restraining the PSNI from taking possession of recordings of interviews carried out with Price and held at Boston College will remain in place until a legal challenge by Mr McIntyre gets under way in Belfast next week

HIGH Court judge yesterday granted a temporary injunction to stop police taking possession of interviews with IRA Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price.

Mr Justice Treacy restrained the PSNI from receiving tape recordings carried out with Price as part of a history proj-ect at Boston College in the United States.

The order will remain in place until a legal challenge by one of the researchers, ex-IRA man-turned-writer Anthony McIntyre, gets under way in Belfast next Wednesday.

Mr McIntyre is seeking to judicially review the police over moves to gain the material for their investigation into the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville – one of the so-called Disappeared.

His lawyers argued that disclosing the transcripts will put his life at risk.

Loyalist and republican paramilitaries gave interviews to Mr McIntyre and journalist Ed Moloney for the college’s Belfast Project.

Those who took part included Price, who was jailed for her part in a bomb attack on the Old Bailey in London in 1973 which injured more than 200 people.

Recordings were carried out on the understanding that they would only be made pub-lic once interviewees had died.

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

Although a further bid to challenge that decision in the Supreme Court is planned, that was described yesterday as “a long shot”.

With the expiry of a seven-day stay on supplying the material to police, counsel for Mr McIntyre argued it was journalistic or academic work which should not be disclosed.

David Scoffield QC said: “The PSNI seeing or receiving this material is going to be putting the applicant’s life at risk.

During the hearing the judge questioned claims that hand-ing the interviews to police would expose the researcher to increased risk because of a breach to “the strict code of silence of the IRA”.

“Material was provided on a voluntary basis by people who apparently were members of the IRA and subject to a code of secrecy who nonetheless apparently gave accounts of their involvement to people in America under assurances of confidentiality which they must have known, or should have known, is not something they could give,” he said.

“Ultimately a court will determine whether it should yield to public interest.”

The judge also questioned whether the legal moves in Northern Ireland were an attempt to ‘circumvent’ the rulings on challenges in the United States.

But Mr Scoffield contended that the PSNI had failed to take into account his client’s right to life under European law.

Opposing the move on behalf of the PSNI, barrister Peter Coll argued that the legal challenge in the United States has already delayed police in-vestigations by nearly two years.

At the end of the lengthy hearing Mr Justice Treacy agreed to grant the interim order sought, citing the human rights aspect and limited period involved.