The Guardian ran an article by Henry McDonald on 21st August entitled “Stakeknife could face perjury charges , says senior police officer”.
Before you ask, the ‘senior UK police officer’ is not named. Quelle surprise.
So the theory is this. Scappaticci went to court in 2003 to force the NI security minister to state publicly that he was not Stakeknife and therefore not an agent.
Now, says McDonald, he could be prosecuted for going to court and “denying he was a spy”.
But hold on a minute. He denied that he was a spy and the NI minister confirmed that.
So who would be prosecuted?
The NI minister who wrongly said he was not a spy, when he was? Or Scap who falsely said that he wasn’t when he was?
So would one or both be prosecuted? Lets look at the legislation
The Perjury (Northern Ireland) Order 1979
- – (1) Any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding who wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false, or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of perjury, and shall, on conviction on indictment, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or to a fine, or to both.
(2) The expression “judicial proceeding” includes a proceeding before any court, tribunal, or person having by law power to hear, receive, and examine evidence on oath.
(3) Where a statement made for the purposes of a judicial proceeding is not made before the tribunal itself, but is made on oath before a person authorised by law to administer an oath to the person who makes the statement, and to record or authenticate the statement, it shall, for the purposes of this Article, be treated as having been made in a judicial proceeding.
(4) A statement made by a person lawfully sworn in Northern Ireland for the purposes of a judicial proceeding-
(a) in another part of Her Majesty’s dominions; or
(b) in a British tribunal lawfully constituted in any place by sea or land outside Her Majesty’s dominions; or
(c) in a tribunal of any foreign state;
shall, for the purposes of this Article, be treated as a statement made in a judicial proceeding in Northern Ireland.
(5) The question whether a statement on which perjury is assigned was material is a question of law to be determined by the court at the trial.
False written statements tendered in evidence
- – (1) Any person who in a written statement tendered in evidence in criminal proceedings by virtue of-
(a) section 1 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968, or
(b) Article 33 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981,
wilfully makes a statement material in those proceedings which he knows to be false, or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) Any person who in a written statement made in Northern Ireland and tendered in evidence in the Republic of Ireland in any criminal proceedings wilfully makes a statement material in those proceedings which he knows to be false, or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of an offence.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (1) or (2) shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both.
(4) This Article is without prejudice to Article 3, and paragraph (1) applies whether the written statement is made in Northern Ireland, Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland
Aiders, abettors, suborners, etc.
- – (1) Any person who aids, abets, counsels, procures, or suborns another-person to commit an offence against this Order shall be liable to be proceeded against, indicted, tried and punished as if he were a principal offender.
(2) Any person who incites another person to commit an offence against this Order shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both.
- A person shall not be liable to be convicted of any offence against this Order, or of any offence declared by any other enactment to be perjury or subornation of perjury, or to be punishable as perjury or subornation of perjury, solely upon the evidence of one witness as to the falsity of any statement alleged to be false.
So it seems that the Minister could be prosecuted for falsely stating in judicial proceedings that he was not a spy and that Scap could be prosecuted for falsely making the same claim. In addition her civil servants and members of MI5, Special Branch, the Army or MI6 could also be prosecuted.
Sadly , the response of Jon Boutcher, if accurately reported, leaves a great deal to be desired.
The devil is in the detail of Article 14. At least two witnesses are needed for the Crown to prove perjury. Who will they be?
Meanwhile one has to ask who sponsored the Guardian article- dark forces, Henry?