Lawyers representing two men jailed in a miscarriage of justice say there are new grounds for their convictions to be deemed unsafe due to the sinister involvement of MI5 double agent Dennis McFadden.
It comes after a Channel 4 investigation into the activities of McFadden revealed new questions over his efforts to ‘sting’ political activists, nine Irish republicans and pro-Palestinian activist Dr Issam Hijjawi Bassalat, all now imprisoned at high-security Maghaberry jail and facing an eventual non-jury ‘Diplock trial’.
Dr Bassalat, a GP based in Edinburgh, Scotland, was lured by McFadden to the north of Ireland in August to address a political meeting at which it is alleged there was an illegal discussion about the New IRA.
His lawyer told Channel 4 News that he has seen transcripts of the recordings and “everything that’s contained within the transcripts and the recordings is about Palestine, is about peaceful and democratic change. There’s nothing in the transcripts from Dr Bassalat that would support violence in any way.”
It has also emerged that Mr McFadden had presented himself to the family of Brendan McConville as a campaigner against miscarriages of justice and as a director of the campaign group ‘Justice Watch Ireland’.
McConville was one of two people convicted of the Continuity IRA attack in which a member of the PSNI was shot dead in 2009, but appealed his verdict four years later. McConville and his family have always maintained his innocence.
McFadden infiltrated their campaign, Justice for the Craigavon Two, and sat in on meetings linked to their appeal (pictured), giving him access to sensitive material.
Speaking on the phone from Maghaberry, McConville told Channel 4 News that MI5, acting through McFadden, had sabotaged his appeal.
“I felt that he had a real genuine concern, on justice. Little did I know that it was the hand of MI5.”
Deceived by his claims of computer skills, the MI5 agent took control of the family’s social media campaign and then refused to give them access.
McConville’s mother, Eileen McConville said: “I used to think he’s (McFadden’s) awful good, from Scotland, coming over here and trying to help us like. We never suspected. Never. And you wouldn’t, you just wouldn’t have. He was so nice.”
It was also reported that McFadden befriended a close relative of John Paul Wootton, who was just 17 at the time of his arrest on the same charges, and was regularly seen in his company in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast as the campaign to free the Craigavon Two built momentum.
Following the unveiling of McFadden as an MI5 agent, Mr McConville’s lawyers have now submitted a file to the Criminal Cases Review Commission calling for a fresh appeal in which the conviction should be deemed unsafe.