Sinn Féin’s former Publicity Director Danny Morrison has demanded to know why his conviction for the abduction of an IRA informer is to be quashed without explanation.
A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) lawyer told the Court of Appeal this week that ‘new evidence’ surrounding the IRA interrogation of informer `Sandy’ Lynch in February 1990 meant that the Diplock Court convictions of Mr Morrison and six co-accused could no longer be regarded as ‘safe’.
In May 1991 the former Sinn Féin publicity director was jailed for eight years for aiding and abetting Lynch’s false imprisonment.
During Mr Morrison’s trial Mr Lynch identified Freddie Scappaticci as his main abductor.
In 2003 Scappaticci was accused of being a British Army spy known as `Stakeknife’.
Earlier this year the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice, referred the seven convictions back to the Court of Appeal.
However the CCRC refused to give its reasons for referring the convictions back to the Court of Appeal.
It has refused to confirm if it is connected to British intelligence efforts to protect Freddie Scappaticci being identified as a British agent and part of an elaborate entrapment.
Instead a sealed envelope was given to the Court of Appeal, which has remained unopened for five months.
This week the Crown Prosecution Service allowed Court of Appeal judges to read the revelations but objected to the details being shared with defence barristers or being made public.
Mr Morrison’s barrister Charles Adair QC said that the supposedly reliable evidence originally used to convict his client had been put into the public arena and it was now only proper that Morrison should be entitled to the same level of openness when his conviction was now to be quashed.
“It seems amazing that the court is saying that we find this man not guilty but we don’t know why,” he said.
Gerard Hodgins’s barrister, Frank O’Donoghue, told the court that the refusal to reveal the CCRC’s reasons meant that Morrison and his co-accused would effectively be blocked from applying for compensation.
The case has now been adjourned until October 3 to allow the Court of Appeal to study the CCRC document.
Mr Morrison demanded that the CCRC findings should now be made public.
“I think it’s only fair that they should open that envelope.
“We are entitled to see what these documents say, provided it isn’t endangering anyone,” he said.
“We appeared in a trial, during which all sorts of things were alleged.
“We were wrongly convicted in public and I think given the new political dispensation it is only fair that we are given the reasons for our original convictions now being overturned.
“The court owes us that much.”
The Morrison/Lynch trial has previously made legal history.
In 1996 the European Court of Human Rights declared that one of those accused, Anto Murray, had had his human rights violated when he was refused access to a lawyer for 48 hours during questioning.
As a result then British home secretary Jack Straw was forced to change British law.