Alex McCrory discusses the dirty tricks the British police and security services have been playing at his trial.
Our trail resumes on January 20th. This week completes six years from the time of our arrest in 2013. We served more than two years in Maghaberry and are now approaching four years on restrictive bail. It is easy to imagine the impact this has had on my family life.
We are nearing the end of an admissibility challenge known in legal jargon as a voir dire; a trial within a trial. During the course of a lengthy Section 8, the defence identified a number of serious concerns in the chain of custody of the evidence. In addition to this, there are doubts about the authenticity of the recordings themselves.
The defence has not been afforded the opportunity to scientifically test the evidence because of MI5 refusal to disclose. It has simply pulled down the shutters, invoking national security as a blanket excuse. Moreover, one witness after another refused to answer all questions relating the technical aspects of the case.
A witness refusing to answer a question is in contempt unless there is something before the court allowing it. Up until now the prosecution has not made any PII applications, therefore, all witnesses should be compelled to answer questions without recourse to national security. The judge will have to rule on this point.
Add to this that almost every spook claimed under oath to have destroyed personal notes and dairies that would shed light on the entire process. This is in flagrant breach of evidential guidelines enunciated by the Courts. Investigators are expected to retain a full written record of all work carried out during the course of an investigation.
As well as the above, MI5 admitted to 'cleaning down' the devices so that it is no longer possible to compare the court exhibit with what was originally captured. The exhibit itself is a generated copy of what MI5 claims 'assures' the court was on the original recordings.
It has also been shown that persons unknown accessed the recordings and created files even before they were downloaded onto discs/USB sticks for evidential purposes. Also, at this very early stage, a piece of malware/virus appears on the system that basically operates as a backdoor facilitator allowing for manipulation of the data. The prosecution have so far not been able to explain the origin of the virus through evidence. Of course, all these things are testable with proper access to the equipment. Mention of the malware only came four years into the case.
For four years both the court and the defence were led to believe the evidence traversed a particular pathway; via an MI5's computer system known as Marshbrook. Subsequent to the work being done in this case, that system was decommissioned shortly thereafter. Later, it was suggested the evidence came via a different route without any explanation being provided for the alteration. It is the defence's belief this was done because the state realised the serious gap in the continuity chain of evidence.
Finally, the voice analyst made a fatal error by misattributing two voice in the recordings; one person not even involved in the case. This occurred because the expert was provided with the names and reference samples of three police suspects. He was also given a transcript on which speech attributions were against the names of the said suspects. When the job of the expert is to conduct an independent examination of the recordings, it is wholly unacceptable for the police to prime the expert by identifying suspects even before the voice analysis has been carried out.
This is a succinct synopsis of the court proceedings thus far. It is by no means exhaustive. At the end of the voir dire, the judge will have to rule on the admissibility issue in order to allow the trial to proceed to the next stage.
Watch this space.
NB. Check list of serious breaches
➽ Devices wiped.➽ All computers destroyed/decommissioned.
➽ All contemporaneous notes/ records destroyed.
➽ Virus on system.
➽ Break in continuity chain.
➽ Flawed voice analysis.
➽ Wittness refusal to answer revelant questions.
➽ Sudden change in prosecution's presentation narrative.