British government drops ‘stop and search’ appeal
British government drops ‘stop and search’ appeal


The British government has abandoned a planned Supreme court challenge to a ruling that stop and search operations involving a former IRA hunger striker and a brother-in-law of Martin McGuinness were unlawful.

Senior judges in Belfast have been told an appeal by the British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers and the PSNI chief Matt Baggott was no longer being pursued.

Both men, Bernard Fox and Marvin Canning, are now to press ahead with claims for damages against the PSNI. A lawyer for Mr Canning, who is a member of the 32 county Sovereignty Movement, has said he has been stopped more than 100 times.

Lawyers in both cases successfully overturned a previous High court decision that no violation under the European Convention on Human Rights had occurred.

Following the notification this week that the British government had dropped their appeal in his case, Mr Canning’s solicitor Paul Pierce of KRW law said it had confirmed the ruling that the stop and search powers used by police were unlawful, and that his client would be seeking damages.

Meanwhile, another Derry republican has said he is to challenge the validity of stop and search powers after he was subjected to around “200 searches in the past five years.”

Steven Ramsey, from Creggan in Derry, said he has no convictions but has been stopped around 40 times a year.

His lawyers, Madden and Finucane, will put the case to the High Court later this month.

Mr Ramsey says he has logged dates, times and locations of searches.

Mr Ramsey said: “At the start it was just me, then they started on my wife too. Once they see her they take a U-turn to stop and search.

“My seven-year-old wee girl is petrified.

“I’ve never been charged with anything and nothing has ever been found in my car. It’s just harassment.”

However, the practice is still continuing, according to republican activists.

Last Thursday, the partner of imprisoned Newry man Stephen Murney was among several people who were subjected to a PSNI stop and search operation.

Stephen’s partner was travelling home to Newry with a friend after visiting Stephen in Maghaberry prison. Minutes after leaving the prison, both women were stopped and searched by the PSNI using Section 21 of the Justice and Security Act.

A number of relatives visiting other prisoners were also subjected to similar stop and searches on the same day.

Commenting on the PSNI’s actions, eirigi general secretary Breandan Mac Cionnaith said, “It is clear that PSNI were deliberately targeting relatives visiting Maghaberry prison for no other reasons other than that of pure harassment and vindictiveness.”

He said that although the Crown forces had withdrawn from a court challenge against the previous ruling this week, it was “quite clear” that abuses under the legislation were still continuing.

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