The Good Old days, when Barra was a pup.

Roy Junkin, sometime deputy director of the DPP, used to remind his staff and police the “we are in the ‘E’ business”. E stood for evidence. A case would not be prosecuted unless and until the evidence supported a reasonable prospect of success of conviction. That was the test.

Barra was just a pup then.

Now the PPS , under Barra’s command, are all over the place.

[Although it should be said that he did apply  for another job]

Consider the Ivor Bell case. As I understand it , the case against him is that he has given interviews to the Boston College project and therein he has incriminated himself in the murder of Jean McConville. Thus he has been charged with membership of the IRA and aiding and abetting her murder.

You might think, Dear Reader that before the police arrested him they had some evidence to support the contention that his voice could be heard on a tape.

The law requires that a police officer must ‘reasonably suspect’ that a crime has been committed before he arrests.

So Bell was arrested in March 2014 and he was charged a few days later. Undoubtedly the PPS would have been involved in the decision to charge.

So that’s it. Police have evidence that he spoke words on tape…..

Well, not exactly, because in May 2015 the PPS had not made up their minds and had involved senior counsel. Not so cut and dried?

The PPS prosecutor needed further time. Further time was afforded by the court and eventually the PPS indicated that the case would proceed. So the prosecutorial test had been passed. “A reasonable prospect of success”. Hurrah!

On 30 July the case was listed for a preliminary enquiry on 22 October 2015 over eighteen months after Bell was arrested.

In the meantime a lawyer in the PPS will be putting the papers in order. Statements of evidence, which already support the contention that Bell is guilty as charged. Just a clerical exercise…..

But, just a minute!

The PSNI wrote  to Ed Moloney, in August 2015 asking if he would cooperate as a witness in the case.

I am tempted to ask “What is Barra-Boy up to?”  Then I remember. In the words of Jim Allister, Barra was Sinn Fein’s lawyer of choice before he took the Queen’s shilling. Many of his clients were senior members of the provisional IRA. He has played no part, I think, in the Bell case.

So the team who are bringing you the Ivor Bell prosecution brought you the Mairia Cahill debacle.

My more constant adherents may wonder why, coming from my background, I find the Bell case so worrying. Five points.

  1. If the State can fit up Bell, so stand we all in peril.
  2. The PPS and particularly its Director are not fit for purpose.
  3. The handling of the case, given its fame, is awful. Cart before the horse. What chance does the ordinary citizen have?
  4. It’s another in a long line of flawed prosecutions.
  5. My father, killed at the hands of the Provisional IRA , taught me to respect the rule of law. It is conspicuously absent here.
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