Challenge to ‘Hooded Men’ investigation ruling before Supreme Court

By: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images 
Seven of the 14 'Hooded' men, who were kept in hoods interned in Northern Ireland in 1971, (from left) Jim Auld, Patrick McNally, Liam Shannon, Francie McGuigan, Davy Rodgers, Brian Turley and Joe Clarke, following a press conference at KRW Law in Belfast, after the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgement on the treatment of the 'Hooded' men.
The surviving internees say authorities failed to comply with their duty to properly investigate what happened to them. Credit: PA

The UK's Supreme Court is to hear the PSNI Chief Constable’s challenge to a judgment that there should be an independent investigation into the 'Hooded Men' case.

The case also involves the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Department of Justice.

The 14 Catholic men were interned at an army camp in Ballykelly and subjected to interrogation techniques including hooding, being put in stress positions, being forced to listen to white noise, and being deprived of sleep, food and water.

In September 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that an investigation into criminal acts committed during the interrogation of the ‘Hooded Men’ in Northern Ireland in 1971 should proceed and that the men’s treatment amounted to torture.

Francis McGuigan outside the Court of Appeal in Belfast which ruled an investigation must be carried out into their treatment. Credit: Presseye

Ahead of the hearing, Francis McGuigan, one of the Hooded Men, said: “I hope the Supreme Court will not only say there should be an investigation to identify and hold to account those who were responsible for authorising and carrying out torture on us, but also that the PSNI are not independent and must not conduct it.

“Truth and justice must prevail. This case doesn’t just matter for me as a ‘Hooded Man’, it is important for every torture victim past, present and future”.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International are intervenors in the case.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said: “All eyes should be on this challenge, which will be hugely significant to torture victims across the world and the ongoing unresolved issue of legacy of the Troubles. It should concern us all that the PSNI continue to argue against an independent, effective investigation into state-sanctioned torture.

“The implications of this case cannot be overstated. This is not just about long-overdue justice for the ‘Hooded Men’, it will also affect other victims of the Troubles who are still being denied truth and justice.”

Darragh Mackin, solicitor for Phoenix Law, said: “As the Lord Chief Justice has previously made clear, ‘there is a real danger that the rule of law is undermined if that extends to protecting Ministers from investigation in respect of criminal offences possibly committed by them’.

"For the same reasons, we intend to vigorously defend the Chief Constable’s appeal before the Supreme Court.”