The Boston College Tapes case to be heard by the UK Supreme Court
Human Rights Lawyers
21 June 2019
Press Release PDF
Anthony McIntyre has been granted permission by the UK Supreme Court under Lord Kerr, Lord Carnwatch and Lady Arden to have an oral hearing in respect of Jurisdiction into the request by the PSNI to obtain the Boston College tapes from America.
By way of background on 3 September 2014 the PSNI requested that the PPS issue an ILOR in respect of the applicant’s interviews given to Boston College for academic purposes. The PSNI upon learning of the applicant tapes issued an ILOR on 9 February 2015 pursuant to section 7(5) of the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003. There were a number of errors in this ILOR which the Divisional Court in Belfast noted were due “to a distinct and surprising lack of care on the part of the PSNI and the PPS”.
The applicant issued Judicial Review proceedings against the PSNI and PPS on 23 May 2016 seeking to prevent the DPP or PSNI from taking any further steps in the utilisation of the interview materials requested from the United States Central Authority. The Supreme Court sitting in London has now confirmed it will hear an appeal regarding the Boston College tapes on the issue surrounding jurisdiction. A hearing is expected for later this year.
These tapes were made solely for academic purposes. They were never intended to be used for criminal investigations. I welcome the fact that the Supreme Court will now hear this case given the important issues at hand.
Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, solicitor for Mr. McIntyre said:
We welcome the decision of the UK Supreme Court to allow us to be heard on the issues critical to Mr. McIntyre’s case. The Court is expected to sit in early October 2019. We look forward to this hearing before the Supreme Court.
Notes for Editors:
In 2001 Anthony McIntyre became involved in an academic oral history project known as the “Belfast Project” with the journalist and author Ed Moloney who was the project Director.
The project was sponsored by Boston College, Massachusetts, USA. The object of the project was to collect and preserve for academic research the recollections of members of republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations. The methodology was to gather first-hand testimony by way of voice recordings from participants.
The project lasted from 2001 until May 2006. It began with interviews of former members of the Provisional IRA and was subsequently expanded to include interviews with former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force. The applicant was a researcher. He interviewed past participants in the conflict recording their personal recollections. His experience as a journalist and a participant gave him access to those people and enabled them to repose a degree of trust in him which they might not otherwise have had.
Each participant gave the content of the recordings into the possession of Boston College for preservation. Access to the tapes was to be restricted until after the interviewee’s death except where they provided prior written authority for their use otherwise. The applicant maintains that it was always understood that the contents of the interviews might be accessible after death, primarily for academic purposes. He says that it was never envisaged that the contents would be accessed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (“PSNI”) for the purposes of criminal investigation or prosecution.
Upon learning of the attempts by the PSNI and PPS to obtain the clients tapes he initiated Judicial Review proceedings in the Divisional Court in Belfast.
Judgement was handed down on 22 October 2018 In the matter of an application for Judicial Review by Anthony McIntyre  NIQB 79 is available here.
On 22 May 2019 Mr. McIntyre was granted an appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
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