The family of Marian Price has said it is “appalled” at what it says are deliberate delays by the Parole Commission in reviewing her case.
The Parole Commission is empowered to release prisoners if they are no longer considered a ‘public threat’. Campaigners have said that Price never posed any threat, and that her mental and physical health have seriously declined since she was effectively interned without trial last year.
The Price and McGlinchey families said there was now a widely held view that the Commission was engaged in “a stalling process”. They said they had been assured that the Commissioners were in a position to deliver a verdict by Stormont Ministers, as well as by past and present British Direct Rulers.
“It is now 18 months since Owen Paterson employed mechanisms to revoke a license he claimed Marian was held under. She is now imprisoned for offences dating back almost 40 years.
“Marian has been bailed by the courts yet since May 2011 has remained in solitary confinement in prison and present is held in an isolated hospital unit.
“As a consequence of her treatment in Maghaberry and Hydebank prison Marian’s health has continued to deteriorate. The hospital staff now treating Marian’s various illnesses have had an arduous task balancing highly toxic medications with other treatments. This ordeal for all involved should be not be happening.”
“The courts have said Marian should be released on bail and all medical opinion has stated she cannot be treated in an environment that is not conductive to recovery.”
They said the former prisons campaigner had been in an ‘outside’ hospital since June and is held under guard with all the rules and regulations applied to a prison regime.
“The fact that she has been hospitalised by such a lengthy period without improvement and indeed marked deterioration speaks volumes about the chronic state of her health.
The families said that Marian has been forced to endure the brunt of ‘game playing’ in a ‘legal limbo’ to the detriment of her mental and physical health.
“We call on those assigned to adjudicate in this travesty of a so called justice system to act now before a shameful situation becomes irredeemable.”
They said the Parole Commissioners had failed to comply with their obligations under Article 5 of the European Convention, which requires such hearings to take place within a reasonable time
“The Commissioners dealing with Marian’s case must discharge their statutory legal duties without interference from any source. Their delay in embarking on the pathway to a resolution of this urgent matter is tilting the scales towards further deterioration in Marian’s already serious ill health.
“At the same time we call on the state to produce the evidence if it exists so that Marian’s legal team can defend her. The Parole Commissioners must swiftly enact the duties charged to them and after such a lengthy process come to a just and decisive ruling.”
Meanwhile, judgement has been reserved in an appeal against Price’s fellow internee, Martin Corey, being returned to prison.
The British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers has challenging a ruling that the Parole Commissioners had breached Martin Corey’s human rights in keeping him behind bars.
In July Corey won a judicial review over a decision by the Parole Commission to keep him behind bars on the basis of ‘secret information’. A High Court judge held that their determination on whether it was safe to release him had breached his rights under European law.
The commissioners were directed to reconsider the case and Corey was granted unconditional bail.
But pending a full appeal against the judgment, lawyers for the British government secured a stay on the bail order from another judge.
Corey’s legal team are seeking to challenge that determination at the Supreme Court in London.
Meanwhile, the appeal against the judicial review ruling was heard by three senior judges. Following submissions from both sides the judges pledged to deliver their verdict as soon as possible.