'No threat' to McIntyre from tapes disclosure
LAWYERS FOR the Police Service of Northern Ireland have told the High Court in Belfast they believed a former IRA volunteer turned writer, Anthony McIntyre, is under no greater threat to his life as a result of the PSNI’s wish to take possession of copies of interviews he conducted.
Police are seeking access to all recordings he carried out with Dolours Price as part of PSNI investigations into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, one of the so-called disappeared.
Mr McIntyre interviewed Ms Price for a history project at Boston College in the US.
He is challenging the legal bid to obtain the transcripts, claiming it would put his life in danger.
Peter Coll, counsel for the PSNI, said releasing the material would not increase the threat to Mr McIntyre. “Is there any evidence to demonstrate it could result in an Article 2 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] risk to his life? His cupboard is threadbare evidentially,” he said.
Loyalist and republican paramilitaries gave interviews to Mr McIntyre and journalist Ed Moloney for the college’s Belfast Project, an examination of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Those who took part included Price, who was jailed for her part in a bomb attack on the Old Bailey in London in 1973 that injured more than 200 people.
Recordings were carried out on the understanding that they would be made public only after interviewees had died. However, the US courts have ruled that the Price interviews should be handed over to the PSNI.
Mr McIntyre’s barrister, David Scoffield QC, disputed suggestions that his client would not be in danger because the decision to disclose was out of his control.
“There will be those who say ‘You were instrumental in coaxing out of former comrades things that they would otherwise not have said and you made that available to the PSNI’,” he said.
Mr Coll countered that a review of the threat status against Mr McIntyre in July had come back negative. He identified only one incident that coincided with Mr Moloney’s book, Voices from the Grave, based on interviews with other ex-paramilitaries for the same project.
“The day Mr Moloney’s book was published, a neighbour [of Mr McIntyre’s] had excrement sprayed over his car and into his house. That is not to minimise how horrendous that is, but we say it falls very, very far short of establishing the high threshold of risk required under article 2,” he said.
The hearing was told Mr Moloney has claimed his research colleague’s interviews with Ms Price contain nothing relevant to the investigation into Ms McConville’s murder.
Mr Justice Treacy said this appeared to be “at odds” with the view taken by a US judge who reviewed the material and concluded it should be handed over.
He ordered Mr McIntyre to file a sworn affidavit by Monday in an attempt to clarify the position.
“It would be incumbent on Mr McIntyre, if he knew otherwise, in the discharge of his duty of candour to the court, to indicate whether that averment by Mr Moloney was correct or not.
“If it wasn’t correct and he knew if wasn’t correct and he didn’t take the opportunity to make it clear to the court, that would be a serious matter not only for him but for Mr Moloney if it turned out not to be so,” the judge said.
The judicial review hearing was adjourned until next week. A temporary injunction restraining the PSNI from taking possession of the interviews remains in place pending the outcome of the case.