Recently an article appeared on The Carnary about my ongoing trial written by Peter Kearney. It covered some of the evidential aspects of the case relating to voice analysis and the destruction of evidence. I feel some further elaboration of the issues is required as the trial reaches a critical stage. It is only natural that I come at this from a defence perspective.
There were two voice experts for the Crown in this case: Professor French and Dr Kirchubble. How two experts came to be involved was as a result of Professor French misidentifying a voce of the tape, allegedly that of Harry Fitzsimons, with that of another person not before the court. Dr Kirchubble was brought in to explain how this fundamental error occurred. As she was an employee of French at the time, she was basically attempting to correct her boss's mistake. Unsurprisingly, she reached the same conclusions saying the mistake was with an 'margin of error'. A convenient excuse, if I may do so.
But the inherent flaws of the voice analysis is deeper than the misidentification. From the outset, the experts were provided with a police transcript that named the three defendants as suspects. Additionally, large portions of speech was attributed to each of the three accused, and all of this before the experts commenced their analysis. In their evidence, the experts admitted to having had relied of the police transcript throughout the course of their work, with the exception of the first of seven drafts that were produced.
As the analysis was being carried out, French and Kirchubble partook in a 'collective listening' exercise with the investigating officers. The evidence showed they had discussed the recordings and compared notes. Neither the expert nor police officers kept a record of precisely what occurred at that meeting. But, clearly, they were in cahoots.
At the end of giving his evidence, Prof French opined that he would not do the voice analysis the same way today. When asked by the judge why not, he said he would be careful to remove contextual bias, i.e. he would not introduce the police transcript until later stage in the process. Kirchubble also accept that she was susceptible to the same cognitive biss because of her use of the police transcript when compiling her reports.
The role of an expert is to provide independent and impartial evidence to the court free from any external influence.
Another point touched on in the article is the defence claim that MI5 destroyed the original evidence. As with the Craigavon Two, the devices in this case were wiped clean within 24-hours of being retrieved and downloaded onto USB sticks. The net effect of this is that it is impossible to compare what was originally captured on the devices with the contents of the USBs.
Strangely, the MI5 operative who downloaded the devices had no personal recollection of wiping them, although he said it had to have been wiped by him in the circumstances. According to his evidence, it is a matter of MI5 policy to wipe devices for redeployment purposes. Apparently, MI5 is not concerned with the retention of evidence which is a basic legal requirement.
And it gets better: the computer that was used to download the recordings onto the USB sticks was also destroyed. Short of having access to the devices themselves, which the court previously ruled out, the computer was the only other link between the devices and the USB sticks. All this has put the defence in the impossible position of not being able to independently verify the recordings.
The Canary article mentions the discovery of malware/viruses on the two of the USB sticks, but not on the third one, which has simply vanished into thin air. Since all three USBs allegedly were created at the same time using the same computer, the absence of the viruses on the third stick is a mystery. It is suggestive of a separate process about which nothing is known.
Basically, the malware offered third-party access to the computer and/or the devices with the ability to edit or alter the data. A defence expert in the field of computer technology opined that the very existence of the viruses undermined the integrity of the evidence.
These are some of the matters being disputed; there are others.