Northern Ireland

Martin Corey: Double murderer to stay in prison

Martin Corey poster
Image caption Martin Corey is a convicted double murderer

The NI Secretary has won an appeal against a convicted double murderer's legal bid to get out of prison.

Senior judges upheld a challenge to a ruling that Parole Commissioners breached Martin Corey's human rights in keeping him behind bars.

It means Corey will remain in jail at least until separate proceedings go before the Supreme Court in London.

Corey, from Lurgan, County Armagh, received a life sentence in 1973 for the murders of two RUC men.

He was freed on licence in 1992, but in April 2010 former Secretary of State Shaun Woodward ordered his prison recall on the basis of "closed material" and unspecified allegations of involvement with dissident republicans.

In July, he won a judicial review over a subsequent Parole Commissioners decision which kept him behind bars.

A High Court judge held that their determination on whether it was safe to release him had breached his rights under European law.

He found that the open evidence did not advance the secretary of state's case against Corey, meaning that the decision was solely based on closed material.

He also said the commissioners misdirected themselves in law and failed to provide a sufficient safeguard against the lack of full disclosure.

The commissioners were directed to reconsider the case and Corey was granted unconditional bail.

But pending a full appeal against the judgment, lawyers for the secretary of state successfully applied for a stay on the bail order.

They argued that the High Court has no jurisdiction to grant bail in judicial review proceedings.

Corey's legal team are currently seeking to challenge that determination at the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the appeal against the judicial review ruling was heard by three senior judges.

It was argued that there was enough open material to allow Corey the chance to refute the allegations against him.

Corey's legal team insisted, however, that it was insufficient for giving effective instructions to a special advocate at the parole hearing.

The Court of Appeal had to decide whether the process undertaken by the panel, involving a gist of the information, was flawed.

Judges carried out the assessment without access to the closed material.

Delivering judgment on Friday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "We do not consider that such an exercise leads to the conclusion that the Parole Commissioners have erred in making disclosure."

He said the allegations against Corey identified the person with whom he is alleged to be involved and the activities, including recruitment and weapons procurement.

"These are allegations of specific conduct. We cannot infer that the disclosure was inadequate," he said.

Sir Declan also pointed out that the special advocate who saw all of the material did not take issue with the process.

Allowing the appeal, he added: In each of these instances we have focused upon the ability of the special advocate to refute the allegations in light of instructions given to him.

"A denial by the detainee that a meeting occurred or that a topic was discussed addresses a specific allegation and is quite different from the denial of a general allegation such as membership of an organisation."

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