Aside from the considerable interest the press and public would have taken had Barra appeared as a witness for the defence or the prosecution [see Larkin para 4.49-4.51] in the trial of Liam Adams, a number of other points arise from the Starmer and Larkin reports.
1. Why was Gerry Adams, Barra’s former client, not called in the second trial? The answer to the justice committee from the Deputy director was “technical reasons” [ a well known legal term] and the volume of potential disclosure. One wonders if this disclosure related to Gerry’s terrorist activities and/or his usefulness to the state. It may well be another example of where intelligence held by the state intrudes into the administration of justice.
2. Whilst taking responsibility for the AA/BB/Cahill shambles Barra blamed the two prosecuting barristers. Asked by the justice committee about his civil servants , his response was that of the three involved , one had retired and the other two were not in the places they had been when the events happened. This is an obscure remark. Does it mean that they have been sent to the PPS equivalent of the Russian Front or Siberia? He went on to tell the committee that neither would be disciplined because their actions “did not raise issues of indiscipline”. So there you have it. No harm will befall the civil servants, they will eventually retire on their inflation proofed pensions. Meanwhile they may be performing incompetently in your case, dear reader. Their names have never been made public. Meanwhile the two barristers face a public disciplinary hearing.
3. Moving on from that demimonde , Barra was asked a number of questions by Edwin Poots. Barra initially declined to respond when Poots asked him what ‘he put his thing in me” might mean. Having unsuccessfully appealed to the chairman for protection, he stated that it was a description of penetration. Poots point was that that remark by the complainant re Liam, her father, constituted a complaint of rape and that it had been heard by Gerry, bringing him within the ambit of the then legislation on with holding information. Larkin concluded that Aine’s evidence re Gerry called at the very least for clarification.
4. Alban Maginness told Barra that Larkin’s report gave the PPS “a clean bill of health”. Let’s examine that. The real nub of the PPS performance is set out by Larkin at paras 6.17- 6.22. Larkin notes that in relation to the assessment of the evidence against Gerry, neither the acting director nor senior counsel appear, from the acting deputy director’s minute, to have been provided with the two transcribed interviews of Aine. Nor did senior counsel have access to a minute from the directing officer. So , another PPS communication failure. Larkin was not asked to comment on the decision not to prosecute Gerry but it is clear that had communications been working properly , at the least the PPS would have sought clarification from Aine or Gerry. Larkin describes the “obvious steps” that should have been taken at 6.40. This all leaves out of account Larkin’s view that the PPS did not follow its own procedures.
5 Enter the PSNI, stage left. The police told the PPS that Gerry Adams had “quite rightly…Aine’s welfare at the forefront throughout”. Contrast that astonishing statement with his performance under cross-examination in the first trial. Is this a genuinely held belief by the PSNI or was it another smokescreen? They lobbied the PPS for no prosecution of Gerry “in the public interest” Did it fall within example [x] in the PPS list of some grounds for not prosecuting in the public interest ” where details may be made public that could harm sources of information, international relations or national security”?
6. A number of the members of the justice committee voiced concern at the performance of the PPS. It is hard to disagree.
6. Larkin’s report was spun by the PPS as a vindication of its activities. It is no such thing.