The British government sent a Belfast man back to jail based on a secret claim by British intelligence that he might return to armed republican activity after his release, it has emerged.
The reasons for revoking Terence McCafferty’s licence were disclosed as he lost his appeal against the decision being taken by Paul Goggins, the Direct Rule ‘Security’ Minister.
His lawyers had argued that, under the law, only the British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward had the power to order his return to prison.
McCafferty, from the New Lodge area, received a 12 year sentence in July 2005 after being convicted of possessing explosives.
The 41-year-old was released on licence last November only to be rearrested the following month and returned to Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim.
Mr Goggins authorised the revocation on the grounds that his continued liberty would put the public at risk and because of the possibility of further offences.
Following a failed application for a writ of habeas corpus, McCafferty sought to overturn the decision in the Court of Appeal.
Ruling on the new challenge, the judge set out the contents of a letter from Goggins claiming that McCafferty remained a “leading and active member of the Real Irish Republican Army” while in prison and that he had been “involved in plans to conduct attacks”.
McCafferty categorically denies the allegations in the letter, which was not read out in open court during a summary of the nine-page judgment.
His legal team claimed the British government is “biased” and the decision was based on allegations and information that were not revealed and could not be challenged by McCafferty or his advisers.
However, the panel of three judges found no substance in the submissions.
Dismissing the appeal, the judge said that ultimate responsibility for ‘security’ in the North of Ireland rests with the British Direct Ruler and therefore that Goggins must have acted under the direction of Shaun Woodward.
Mr McCafferty was arrested and returned to jail on December 22nd last year at Belfast airport after returning with his wife from a long awaited honeymoon in Spain, following his recent release from prison.
Campaigners for Mr McCafferty described his return to jail as an “unwarranted internment of a father of five young boys, just days before his first Christmas home in six years”.
* A leading republican has launched a legal action against his forthcoming criminal trial being heard without a jury.
County Tyrone man Brian Arthurs is seeking to quash a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a certificate for the trial on charges of possessing criminal property to take place in front of a judge alone.
His barrister told High Court judges that Arthurs had a “fundamental right to trial by one’s peers”.