Boston College Project: Winston Rea wins PSNI restraining order
10 February 2015
An ex-loyalist prisoner has secured a last-minute court order to stop Northern Ireland police getting hold of interviews he gave to a US university.
Winston Rea was one of dozens of former paramilitaries who provided testimonies about the Northern Ireland Troubles to Boston College’s Belfast Project.
But on Tuesday night, as PSNI officers were on a flight to Boston, Mr Rea won an emergency restraining order.
‘Oral history project’
His lawyers had taken the case to the Court of Appeal after their challenge was thrown out by a High Court judge in Belfast on Monday.
The PSNI detectives’ flight was mid-Atlantic when Court of Appeal judges issued their ruling, banning police from taking possession of the recordings until at least Friday.
Mr Rea was among loyalists and republicans who provided testimonies to Boston College researchers for an oral history project on the Northern Ireland conflict.
The interviews were given on the understanding that tapes would not be made public until after the participants’ deaths.
‘Right to privacy’
However, the researchers’ assurances were dealt a blow in 2013 when PSNI detectives investigating the murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville in 1972 secured the transcripts of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price.
The Price interviews were handed over following court battles on both sides of the Atlantic.
Mr Rea, a former loyalist prisoner, had sought to judicially review the Public Prosecution Service’s (PPS) attempts to obtain his interviews.
The emergency restraining order has been granted until Friday, when Mr Rea’s lawyers are expected to renew legal arguments that the PSNI move breaches his right to privacy.