Euro challenge to strip searches

A republican prisoner has won the right to challenge prison strip search policies in a case which could have wider implications.

Brendan Conway was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the process at Maghaberry prison.

Mr Conway is challenging routine full-body searches on prisoners entering and leaving the prison.

He also pointed out that laws are being breached by use of force on prisoners who do not give consent to being strip-searched.

His legal team argue that the system flouts his rights to privacy and freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Force was used to remove his clothes and expose his body on a number of occasions.

Video footage of one incident last year has been viewed his lawyers, who confirmed the actions of the prison service in carrying out the forcible strip search were “excessive”.

The system of forcible strip searches was to have ended following a prison protest last year. However, prisoner support groups have said the British government reneged on the deal.

Granting leave to apply for a judicial review the judge, Mr Justice McCloskey, said he was satisfied that an arguable case had been established.

A full hearing is now due to be held next month.

Outside the court Mr Conway’s solicitor, Paul Pierce of Kevin R Winters and Co, stressed the importance of the case.

He said: “It raises very significant issues regarding the lawfulness of the policy to carry out forcible strip searches on someone who, although not complying, is offering no resistance.”

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