Howard accused over sentences

 

The British Home Secretary was accused yesterday of exceeding his powers by giving two republican prisoners "a living death sentence".

Paul Kavanagh and Thomas Quigley, from west Belfast, were told last year that Mr Michael Howard had decided they must remain in jail until they die. Yesterday in the High Court they applied for a judicial review on the grounds that a whole life tariff was unlawful.

Kavanagh and Quigley were convicted of three murders arising out of two bomb attacks in London in 1981. They were transferred to Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn in July, 1994, but still remain on "temporary transfer"

When they were sentenced in 1985 the tariff for terrorist murders was "at least 20 years" but it later emerged that the trial judge had recommended the" two men should serve 35 years.

A lawyer for the Crown will reply today.