WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
July 14 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Gerry Adams “wrongly denied compensation” after overturned conviction, High Court rules

Gerry Adams “wrongly denied compensation” after overturned conviction, High Court rules

Old Bailey: the central criminal court of England and Wales

This week, the High Court ruled that Gerry Adams, the former Sinn Fein leader, was unlawfully denied compensation after his convictions for attempting to escape prison were overturned.

Previously, Adams’ overturned convictions related to a long-standing case linked towards his attempted escapes from Long Kesh internment camp (colloquially known as the ‘Maze Prison’) both in 1973 and then again a year later, during the peak of the Troubles episode in Northern Ireland. Adams was one of the almost 2000 suspected paramilitary members who were detained without trial during the Troubles.

More than 40 years later, in 2020, the Supreme Court held that both his convictions were unsafe on a technically, that his custody order for his initial detention was invalid because the former secretary of state, Willie Whitelaw, had not personally authorised taking Adam into custody, therefore dismissing it on procedural grounds.

Following the ruling, Adams attempted to claim compensation in 2021, with the Department of Justice holding that he was ineligible under the compensation scheme, because Adams’ case was overturned on grounds of a legal point rather than a newly discovered fact or fresh evidence being discovered.

Adams launched a legal challenge against the DoJ’s justification for denying his compensation, and the High Court, agreeing with Adams, reflected that both sides had been unaware of the factual situation surrounding the invalid custody order. In his judgement, the Belfast High Court Judge reflected that ‘the applicant had been convicted of a criminal offence, his conviction has been reversed in circumstances where a newly discovered fact (the lack of consideration by the secretary of state) shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice, that is, the applicant is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.’ From this, it was concluded that the DoJ had ‘erred in law in determining that the reversal of the applicant’s conviction arose from a legal ruling on facts.’ And satisfied the test for compensation under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

This important ruling comes at a crucial time, especially considering that the Grand Chamber in the ECtHR is set to make their ruling on Nealon and Hallam v. U.K. on the issue of whether current U.K. statutory provisions governing eligibility for compensation of persons wrongfully convicted can stand against the presumption of innocence guaranteed by Article 6(2) of the ECHR.

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