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Full Hearings

Hearing: 20th May 2008, day 23

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ROSEMARY NELSON

PUBLIC INQUIRY

 

 

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held at:
The Interpoint Centre
20-24 York Street
Belfast BT15 1AQ


on Tuesday, 20th May 2008
commencing at 10.15 am


Day 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

1 Tuesday, 20th May 2008

2 (10.15 am)

3 MR PATRICK VERNON (continued)

4 Questions by MR PHILLIPS (continued)

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips.

6 MR PHILLIPS: Mr Vernon, can I just pick up with you a few

7 points that we were talking about yesterday afternoon,

8 first in relation to civil actions against the police.

9 You said in answer to questions both from me and

10 from the Chairman -- you gave us your recollection of

11 the way claims of that kind turned out.

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. And as I understand it, you said that the vast majority

14 of them were settled?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Perhaps at the door of the court, perhaps during the

17 action, perhaps before?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. And I asked you -- and I think you accepted -- that the

20 settlements would tend to have been on the basis of no

21 admission as to liability?

22 A. That's right.

23 Q. But you also said, I think, that some at least went to

24 trial and were resolved in the claimant's favour?

25 A. Yes, that's right.

 

 

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1 Q. Since yesterday afternoon we have been looking through

2 the files and trying to find examples of that, and at

3 the moment I have to say we can only find one.

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. In relation to a case which was started in 1997 as

6 a result of the 1996 Garvaghy Road incident --

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. -- and resulted in a judgment, I think in

9 about February 1999, in favour of the claimant?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Now, just so we are very clear about this, can you

12 actually give us examples of specific cases which

13 resulted in judgments favourable to the claimant?

14 A. I'm afraid I can't. There were so many cases at that

15 time, but I would accept that the vast majority of them

16 would have been settled -- usually on the morning of the

17 court.

18 Q. It looks as though some of them failed, i.e. the

19 proceedings were dismissed?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And there were cases of that kind, weren't there?

22 A. Oh, yes.

23 Q. Is it possible that there was just that one?

24 A. It is possible. I mean, my -- my strong impression is

25 that the vast majority of them were settled without

 

 

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1 going to trial, so it is possible that a very small

2 number actually did go to court. A very small number

3 actually were heard as a contest.

4 Q. If these were small claims or relatively small claims,

5 would they have been heard in the county court?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. By a judge alone or a judge with a jury?

8 A. A judge alone.

9 Q. So those cases that went to full conclusion, there would

10 have been a reasoned judgment, would there, given by the

11 judge?

12 A. Yes, although I don't think they would have been

13 recorded or anything like that. But the judge would

14 have given his comments as to the decision he made.

15 Q. Thank you. Now, can I then ask you a few questions

16 about the client whose case we were looking at just

17 before we broke yesterday afternoon, and this is C208?

18 The first question I wanted to ask you about

19 concerns the notes. Do you remember the notes which you

20 said in your statement to Commander Mulvihill existed?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. And we looked together at the report he made, in which

23 he indicates that he had chased up the notes and had not

24 been provided with them?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. I just want to ask you a few questions about what might

2 have happened to them. As far as we can see from the

3 papers, this client, C208, was released without charge?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. So it follows, doesn't it, that there would not have

6 been a file at the firm dealing with the criminal

7 proceedings, because there weren't any?

8 A. That's right.

9 Q. So when you said in your statement that you had the

10 notes, where would they have been kept at the firm?

11 A. Well, there would have been just -- there would have

12 been like a folder, you know, a cardboard folder, I

13 would -- probably had with me and they would have been

14 in those. I think they were red coloured, if I remember

15 rightly, at that stage.

16 Q. So as soon as the client came on to the books, as it

17 were, the material about him or her was put in a folder

18 or file of that kind, was it?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And in a case such as this where no proceedings

21 resulted, would the file simply be closed?

22 A. Yes. Well, I imagine -- whenever you attended the

23 police station for payment purposes we would have used

24 what was called a green form, for advice and for

25 attending people in police stations or holding centres.

 

 

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1 So the file would have been opened, the notes would have

2 been in it and then that form would have been completed

3 and submitted to the Legal Aid department for payment.

4 And then, when payment came in, then I presume the file

5 would have been closed.

6 Q. So that in relation to a case such as this where the

7 limit of the work is attendance at the holding centres,

8 you would have applied for payment on the green form

9 scheme, and once it had been received that would have

10 been the end of that file?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Okay. That is very helpful, thank you.

13 Now, what we also know about this case is that there

14 was a complaint made?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Would that have resulted in the opening of a new file?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. So there would have been a separate complaint file,

19 would there?

20 A. Yes, almost certainly, yes.

21 Q. Was any form of Legal Aid funding available for

22 complaints?

23 A. Yes. Again, it probably would have been just the green

24 form just for advice up to a certain limit.

25 Q. So can I assume, therefore, that, for instance, the

 

 

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1 correspondence about the complaint, some of which we saw

2 yesterday, the client's statement, if there was one,

3 et cetera, that would all have gone into the complaint

4 file?

5 A. Yes, I would have thought so, yes.

6 Q. Right. Well, if that was the system, can you help us:

7 where a request was made for notes, notes made during

8 your attendance at the holding centre, in which file

9 would you have expected the notes to be kept?

10 A. Well, I would have expected them to be kept in my

11 original file.

12 Q. In the criminal file?

13 A. Yes, perhaps a copy of them put, you know, in the

14 complaints file.

15 Q. So there might be the original in one file and the copy

16 in the complaints file?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Now, we know that your attendance at the holding centre

19 was at the end of June 1998 and that your interview took

20 place less than three months later in September 1998?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Is there any reason you can think, based on your

23 knowledge of the firm's system, why those notes would

24 have been removed or otherwise destroyed in that

25 three-month period?

 

 

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1 A. No.

2 Q. No.

3 A. No.

4 Q. And were they handwritten?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Was it your practice to ask the secretaries to type them

7 up on your return to the office?

8 A. No.

9 Q. No?

10 A. No.

11 Q. So they would have been retained, would they, in

12 handwritten form in their original state in the criminal

13 file and possibly with a copy going over to the

14 complaint file?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. And just to complete the picture, on the complaint file

17 presumably they would have remained there and the file

18 would have remained open until such moment as the

19 investigation was over and you received a letter of the

20 kind we looked at yesterday saying that matters had been

21 concluded?

22 A. That's correct.

23 Q. At which point that file would also have been closed?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Thank you. Can I ask you now, please, to look at

 

 

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1 RNI-219-078 (displayed)?

2 This is the statement we looked at yesterday, the

3 statement you made to the Mulvihill team about this very

4 case. Can I ask you to turn over, please, to

5 RNI-219-079 (displayed)? Right at the very bottom of

6 this page, do you see four lines up you make a reference

7 to these notes which we have just been talking about?

8 And then in the very final sentence of this page,

9 you say:

10 "I would like to add that ..."

11 Then the name of the client:

12 "... said that his name may become known to LVF in

13 Portadown and also to a member of that organisation. I

14 think his name was ..."

15 Then you give the name:

16 "He also intimated that the police said that they

17 couldn't be held responsible for his safety. Also, I

18 would like to say that he told me he was very frightened

19 and I fear that he may make a detrimental statement to

20 stop these threats."

21 So that was your concern, was it?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Then this sentence:

24 "The client also asked me to write a letter to the

25 officer in charge of Castlereagh requesting that when he

 

 

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1 was released, that he be dropped outside Lurgan police

2 station and not any other area where he could be in

3 danger. I faxed a letter to this effect on 30th June.

4 My request was complied with."

5 So when you gave the statement in September, you

6 were confident, were you, that you had written to

7 Castlereagh making this request in relation to this

8 particular client?

9 A. Yes, there was a -- I think a letter from the office was

10 sent. I am not sure whether -- I think it was because

11 some comment thing that was made to him that he was very

12 afraid that when he was being -- at release, that he

13 would be dropped off in an area where he basically

14 wouldn't be safe and that he specifically asked me to

15 try and make sure that if they did release him, that

16 they would drop him off outside Lurgan police station

17 where he could be met by family.

18 Q. And again, as I understand it, what you are telling the

19 Mulvihill team here is that the request you made was

20 complied with, i.e. by the police?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. The reason I ask you this is because, although we found

23 other correspondence from this time, the end of June,

24 and we looked at some examples yesterday from

25 Rosemary Nelson herself, we haven't been able to find

 

 

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1 this letter, the letter of 30th June.

2 Now, are you confident that you sent such a letter?

3 A. Oh, yes, the letter was definitely sent. I am not sure

4 whether -- when the letter actually went out, whether it

5 was myself who signed it or Rosemary, but I remember

6 specifically back in the office ensuring that letter was

7 sent. And as I say, I don't remember actually signing

8 it personally. I would have made his request known to

9 Rosemary. So I am not actually sure whether it was

10 myself or Rosemary who signed the letter, but the letter

11 was sent.

12 Q. You say you faxed it. That's what you told the police

13 officers. It rather suggests, doesn't it, that you were

14 involved in producing and sending that letter?

15 A. Yes, I remember specifically very clearly making sure

16 that the letter was sent. When I say a faxed a letter,

17 I can't recall whether I meant I personally faxed it or

18 whether I ensured it was faxed, but the letter from the

19 office was sent making that specific request.

20 Q. Just so I am clear about this, that letter, in terms of

21 filing, would have been filed, would it, on the

22 complaints file?

23 A. I would have thought so, but I couldn't be sure of that

24 now. I would have thought so.

25 Q. At this stage, if the letter was sent he was still in

 

 

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1 detention, this client?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. So presumably at that stage the open file was the

4 criminal file?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. So is it more likely on reflection that it would have

7 been filed on the criminal file?

8 A. Well, probably at that stage both files would have been

9 opened, because after his initial indication to us

10 that -- about the threats that were made, both files

11 would have been opened. So, you know, it could have

12 been either.

13 Q. I think you are saying by this stage the letters we

14 looked at yesterday had already been sent?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. So there were two things going on, as it were: there was

17 a criminal procedure and then the complaint?

18 A. The complaints procedure, that's right. So it could

19 have been on either.

20 Q. Might it have been on both?

21 A. Yes, I couldn't say for sure.

22 Q. As with the notes, a copy --

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Now, the final document on this client I wanted to show

25 you is Commander Mulvihill's report, and this is at

 

 

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1 RNI-220-020 (displayed).

2 Now, we looked at this yesterday and we concentrated

3 then on the fourth bullet point; do you see?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. About the notes. We have been over that again this

6 morning.

7 The passage I wanted to look at now, please, is the

8 penultimate passage beginning:

9 "Whether Mrs Nelson ..."

10 And remembering that your name is written there,

11 where it says "0122". What it says there, the Commander

12 says:

13 "Whether Mrs Nelson or [you] knowingly or

14 unknowingly were involved in false allegations can only

15 be a matter of conjecture, but it is disappointing that

16 [you] promised notebook records which might have thrown

17 some light on the issue were never produced despite both

18 promises from him and repeated requests."

19 Now, the two aspects of this I want to ask you

20 about: first of all, did you know at the time that one

21 of the questions Commander Mulvihill was considering was

22 whether you were knowingly involved in making a false

23 complaint?

24 A. No.

25 Q. Was that something that was raised with you in your

 

 

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1 interview with the Mulvihill team?

2 A. No.

3 Q. But you told us yesterday, I think, that you were not

4 aware of what was going on with the Mulvihill complaint

5 and it was handled by Rosemary Nelson?

6 A. That's right.

7 Q. Until you saw this report for the purposes of preparing

8 your evidence, had you ever seen this paragraph before?

9 A. No, no, as I say, it is scandalous that he should make

10 a comment like that impugning myself or Rosemary, when

11 he didn't give us the opportunity -- give myself the

12 opportunity to respond to that suggestion.

13 Q. Well, of course, to be fair to him, what he is doing is

14 simply raising a possibility, isn't he?

15 A. Yes, but the possibility was in his mind. He should

16 have put it to me to get my response to it if this is

17 what he was thinking.

18 Q. You, I think, told us that you were not involved even in

19 discussing the course of this complaint with

20 Rosemary Nelson after you have given your statement to

21 the Commander. Is that right?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. So if, for example, he had put this point to Mrs Nelson,

24 she wouldn't have passed it on to you?

25 A. No.

 

 

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1 Q. Or she didn't --

2 A. She didn't, but -- well, she didn't.

3 Q. Is there any truth in the conjecture?

4 A. Absolutely not, absolutely, totally not.

5 Q. Now, the second aspect of this paragraph I wanted to

6 raise with you is this: he refers in relation to the

7 notebook records to promises from you. We have seen in

8 your statement that you say that you can produce your

9 contemporaneous notes. Do you see that?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Is it possible that the question of your production of

12 those notes was raised with you after that interview; in

13 other words, after September?

14 A. It is possible. I think I do recall him asking me would

15 I be prepared to produce my notes and -- I mean, I have

16 no -- I had no reason not to. You know, the notes were

17 an accurate reflection of what was said to me at the

18 interviews. I personally had no objection to doing so,

19 but, as I say, the question of the complaint

20 subsequently was taken over by Rosemary, so I can only

21 assume it was Rosemary herself who didn't or refused or

22 didn't want to produce them.

23 Q. But did she ever discuss this question of the notes with

24 you?

25 A. No.

 

 

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1 Q. She never came to you and said, "They have asked for

2 your notes, what are we going to do about it?"

3 A. No, Rosemary would have had a fairly strong view herself

4 of what she wanted to do. So she would have done what

5 she thought was right.

6 Q. Can I take it if contact had been made direct with you

7 by the Mulvihill team, you would have ensured that the

8 notes would have been handed over?

9 A. Oh, yes, yes, I would have had no objections. I was

10 quite confident that the notes were a true reflection --

11 a record of what had happened and I would have had no

12 objection to them being produced.

13 Q. But would you have checked with her first?

14 A. Probably, yes, probably. But that didn't -- that didn't

15 happen. Rosemary took over the files, so I think any

16 letters subsequently would have went to Rosemary and I

17 don't recall even seeing the letters. They were going

18 straight to her.

19 Q. Now, looking back at the first part of this paragraph,

20 the question of involvement in false allegations, in the

21 course of dealing with clients who reported comments

22 they said had been made to them in the holding centres,

23 did you ever have occasion to doubt the accounts they

24 were giving you?

25 A. No, absolutely not. No, I mean, from years of taking

 

 

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1 statements off people, at all times that I can recall

2 they came across as very believable, and I never at any

3 time got the impression that it was being made up or

4 fabricated in any way.

5 Q. Did it never occur to you to think that they might be

6 seeking to gain some other advantage, perhaps in

7 criminal proceedings or indeed in civil proceedings,

8 from making up allegations of this kind?

9 A. I can't recall -- I am not aware of having that train of

10 thought. All I can say is that I don't recall at any

11 time taking a statement off anybody and thinking, you

12 know, this doesn't sound right or this isn't believable.

13 Q. Can you ever recall challenging a client about what he

14 was saying and exploring the extent to which what he was

15 saying was credible?

16 A. No, just the C208 yesterday. I mean, I had quite a long

17 discussion with him because, as I said, he was initially

18 reluctant to go into the details of what was said. So

19 we had quite a long conversation about what happened

20 and, as I say, his initial reluctance even to tell me

21 what happened, you know -- made me pretty positive that

22 he in particular was telling the truth.

23 But at no stage when I was interviewing anybody, as

24 I say, do I recall coming across any situation where

25 what they were telling me didn't tally with other facts

 

 

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1 that I was aware of.

2 Q. Had you at this stage ever heard of the suggestion that

3 there was a policy among detainees or suspects to

4 fabricate allegations of this kind?

5 A. No.

6 Q. It wasn't something you were aware of?

7 A. No.

8 Q. Was there anything in your experience that led you to

9 think that there was such a tactic being deployed?

10 A. No, absolutely not, no.

11 Q. I would like to ask you now some questions, please,

12 about a client you mention earlier in your statement,

13 and can we look at that, please, paragraph 12 at

14 RNI-841-054 (displayed)?

15 Now, do you see the cipher there, C200? And we went

16 over yesterday, didn't we, the actual statement made

17 with the reference -- just the line below, do you

18 see? -- about Rosemary Nelson's face?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And you agreed that on reflection that was in fact

21 another client, C220?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. So far as C200 is concerned, it is right, isn't it, that

24 you were involved in attending that client at

25 Castlereagh in February 1998?

 

 

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1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Can I ask you, please, to look at extracts from the

3 custody records? And they are at RNI-217-079

4 (displayed).

5 Now, there is a lot of redaction, but presumably

6 this is a type of document at least with which you are

7 familiar?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And if you look about ten or 12 lines down, on

10 22nd February in the left-hand column at 14.52, it says:

11 "Interview ended, legal visit, Mr ..."

12 Then that is your name?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And you see, if we can go back to the screen, please,

15 that the visit ends at 15.32. And I would like you to

16 turn over, please, to RNI-217-084 (displayed). There is

17 an entry, 24th February 1998, 12.25:

18 "Prisoner out to room C1 for legal visit with

19 Ms Nelson, solicitors."

20 Do you see that?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Then we come back to you at RNI-217-086 (displayed), and

23 again 24th February, this time 22.53. So nearly

24 11 o'clock in the evening:

25 "Legal visit, Mr ..."

 

 

19

 

1 Then your name?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. And finally can we look over, please, to RNI-217-087

4 (displayed), 25th February, 12.34. Do you see there it

5 says:

6 "Solicitor, Ms Nelson C1"?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Sorry, the very final reference on the next page,

9 RNI-217-088 (displayed). This is 25th February still,

10 21.07:

11 "Solicitor's visit ..."

12 And there is your name again?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Now, as we see from this record, this took place

15 in February 1998.

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Now, picking up something first of all you said to us

18 yesterday, it seems, doesn't it, that Rosemary Nelson

19 was still visiting at least this particular holding

20 centre, Castlereagh, at that time?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. So you told us, if you remember yesterday, that you

23 thought she had ceased to visit at about the time you

24 started working in the practice?

25 A. Yes, well, I think she had ceased to -- she attended

 

 

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1 Lurgan police station. I think she still would have

2 occasionally attended the holding centres.

3 I think I said yesterday, in terms of C208, which we

4 previously discussed, my impression was that she

5 actually had visited him also on one or two occasions

6 before I had visited him. So she hadn't stopped

7 completely. There was clients that she would have

8 attended.

9 There was really the two of us in the office, two

10 solicitors who could actually go to these places.

11 Although secretaries would have taken witness

12 statements, et cetera, obviously they couldn't attend at

13 the holding centres for people who had been arrested.

14 So there was only Rosemary and myself.

15 So in logistical terms, sometimes both of us would

16 have had to go out and Rosemary would have on occasions

17 went out.

18 Q. So now you have seen this, then, is the position not

19 that she stopped visits of that kind but that she

20 reduced them as much as possible?

21 A. Yes, she reduced them, yes, yes. I think as I said

22 yesterday, it was with C208. I think -- my impression

23 is she also visited him on one or two occasions as well.

24 Q. Can you remember what motivated her, once you started

25 working at the practice, to go and see clients at the

 

 

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1 holding centres or presumably in police stations, given

2 her reluctance, as you put it yesterday?

3 A. Why did she go?

4 Q. Yes.

5 A. As I say, it was purely practical reasons. Probably

6 most days I myself would have been doing the courts and

7 if I wasn't available and somebody was in the holding

8 centre, then as I say, Rosemary would have went.

9 Q. So it was --

10 A. Because there was only the two of us. As I say, if I

11 wasn't available, she would have went.

12 Q. Does it come to this then: that if she could avoid it,

13 she would, but if you weren't available and somebody had

14 to go, then she would go?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Yes. Now, I want you to look, please, at the statement

17 which is made by this client, in fact I think to CAJ,

18 and it is at RNI-217-050 (displayed).

19 You see this is a statement -- there are in fact two

20 and a half pages of it -- and on this very first page in

21 the second full paragraph, there is a reference to your

22 arrival at the holding centre at Castlereagh. Do you

23 see that?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So this is his statement about the events we have seen

 

 

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1 set out in the custody record.

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. And then, if you turn over the page, please, under the

4 heading "Tuesday" at RNI-217-051 (displayed), do you

5 see, again, he says:

6 "He asked for my solicitor and ..."

7 You came up. And again, under "Wednesday" in the

8 fourth line:

9 "I asked to see my solicitor ..."

10 And you came:

11 "... with a copy of the statement I had given typed

12 out."

13 So do you remember taking a statement from this

14 client?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. And handing it over to him on this day typed out?

17 A. Yes, I took the details off him I think the previous

18 evening and then went to the office and had it typed up

19 and brought it back, and he signed it and we handed it

20 to the police.

21 Q. If you look further down under "Friday" on the same

22 page, one of the allegations which is made by this

23 client in the fourth line of this paragraph under

24 "Friday", do you see, is:

25 "In the first interview on the Friday morning, they

 

 

23

 

1 said that the IRA had given her the statement which I

2 had given them."

3 This is the typed statement:

4 "They said that the IRA were pulling her strings.

5 They also said there was a new law passed in 1989 which

6 meant they could do away with solicitors who concoct

7 stories."

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. What I wanted to ask you, Mr Vernon, is this: this is

10 not a complaint or an allegation which you refer to at

11 any point in your witness statement.

12 A. Hm-mm.

13 Q. And these events took place a very long time ago now.

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Over ten years ago.

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. But do you have any recollection of these allegations

18 being passed on to you by this particular client on one

19 of your visits in February 1998?

20 A. About the statement that was handed in?

21 Q. Well, what is set out here, yes.

22 A. No.

23 Q. No?

24 A. No.

25 Q. So is it likely then that whoever first heard about

 

 

24

 

1 these allegations, it wasn't you?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. If he had made allegations of that kind to you, would

4 you have told him that they ought to be recorded and

5 a complaint made?

6 A. Yes, but I can't recall --

7 Q. You don't recall that having happened?

8 A. -- that being said to me, no.

9 Q. If you turn over to RNI-217-052 (displayed), there is no

10 further references to you in the statement but do you

11 see in the second line there is a reference to one of

12 the interviewing officers saying:

13 "He heard I had been making complaints. He said

14 that this had been going on for 30 years and it wasn't

15 going to change now. He said to tell half face that.

16 They said I made this statement and Rosemary got the

17 witnesses and told them what to say."

18 Again, the question I have for you is the same

19 question: There is no reference to this in your witness

20 statement, do you have any recollection of these

21 allegations being made to you by this client during your

22 visits in February 1998?

23 A. I have no recollection of that specific -- those

24 specific comments being made, no, but just the

25 impression that a number of things had been said to him,

 

 

25

 

1 because he obviously -- his demeanour had obviously

2 changed from the first time I saw him. That is not to

3 say it wasn't said, but I don't specifically remember

4 that comment.

5 Q. The demeanour change is the point you made to us in

6 relation to another client, C208. As I say, you don't

7 refer to this client in this context at all?

8 A. No, it is not something I remember. I don't remember

9 that comment at all, no.

10 Q. No. Presumably, had these comments been passed on to

11 you, apart from advising that a complaint should be made

12 you would have made a note of them?

13 A. I would have thought so, yes.

14 Q. And again, that presumably would have found its way on

15 to the file?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Now, the final topic I want to raise with you,

18 Mr Vernon, concerns threats to Rosemary Nelson herself.

19 You deal with that in various parts of your witness

20 statement and one of them is paragraph 24 at RNI-841-058

21 (displayed).

22 You say there:

23 "Whilst working with Rosemary, I was certainly aware

24 that she did receive various threatening letters and

25 phone calls, though I don't really recall the details of

 

 

26

 

1 these now."

2 But you then say:

3 "I have been shown my statement dated

4 24th March 1999."

5 But you don't recall anything other than what is

6 contained in it?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Can we have a look then, please, at RNI-830-195

9 (displayed). This is the statement you made to the

10 police investigating Rosemary Nelson's murder, isn't it?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. And you made it some nine days after that event when

13 presumably these things were rather fresher in your

14 mind?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Now, in the statement you set out various incidents, and

17 the first is in the fifth line where you say that

18 approximately six weeks ago was the first incident you

19 can recall. Do you see that?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And a telephone call came through to you?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And you then set out in quotation marks what you

24 remember being said:

25 "'This is the LVF. Tell Rosemary Nelson that we'll

 

 

27

 

1 be at the march in Portadown and we will see what's

2 going on.'

3 "He mentioned words which I took to be some sort of

4 code word. The words used were 'blue lagoon' or

5 'blue platoon'."

6 So just looking at this then, the statements made on

7 24th March, six weeks ago, would have been roughly the

8 beginning of February, early part of February?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Does that sound right?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. But at that stage you weren't sure about these code

13 words?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Is that because you couldn't remember or because when he

16 spoke you couldn't hear what he was saying?

17 A. I think at the time when he spoke I couldn't make out

18 which one it was. It was like a Belfast -- a sort of

19 like a mid-Ulster accent so I just couldn't make out

20 what the second word was.

21 Q. Then you say:

22 "The caller went on to say if this was checked out,

23 I would find it a genuine call. The caller spoke slowly

24 and clearly."

25 But obviously not clearly enough, apparently, on the

 

 

28

 

1 lagoon/platoon point?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. It is probably not the sort of call where you could ask

4 for clarification?

5 A. No.

6 Q. Did you say anything in fact during the call?

7 A. No. As far as I recall, I just hung up.

8 Q. How long, roughly, do you think the telephone call

9 lasted?

10 A. A matter of seconds, you know, about ten seconds.

11 Q. So just enough for him to deliver his message and for

12 you to put the phone down?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Now, you say that you later, as you put it, relayed the

15 context of the call to Mrs Nelson?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Can I take it what you mean is that you told her about

18 the telephone call?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Presumably you told her what had been said?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. How did you feel about the telephone call?

23 A. Erm, well, it was -- it sounded ominous, just the tone

24 of the voice. It didn't strike me as a wind-up, you

25 know, that the person who made the call sounded as if he

 

 

29

 

1 meant what he was saying. And that is why I put the

2 phone down. That is why I didn't try to engage in

3 conversation, say "Who's that?" or anything like that.

4 Q. Was this the first occasion that you yourself had

5 received a call of this kind?

6 A. Yes, I think so.

7 Q. Is it right that there were subsequent calls after

8 Rosemary Nelson's murder which you dealt with?

9 A. Yes. On the morning of the murder there were phone

10 calls made to the office.

11 Q. Do you mean in the afternoon?

12 A. Yes. I think sort of subsequently over the next few

13 days there would have been phone calls made.

14 Q. And you dealt with them?

15 A. Yes, well, just the girls would have put them through to

16 me and the same thing: I would have just hung up as soon

17 as I realised what sort of phone call it was.

18 Q. Can you remember any details of those calls?

19 A. I don't. I remember one call where -- one caller sort

20 of in a gloating way said that Rosemary wouldn't be

21 walking down the Garvaghy Road now -- and I took that as

22 a reference to the fact that she had received injuries

23 to her legs as a result of the bomb -- in a sort of

24 mocking tone of voice and I think some of the girls took

25 phone calls too, until eventually I think I told them

 

 

30

 

1 not to answer any of those calls.

2 Q. When you spoke to her about this call, the blue lagoon

3 or blue platoon call, how did she react?

4 A. I don't recall that she reacted in any particular way.

5 As I said, I think she had got used to getting threats

6 over a period of years and I think she just took it in

7 that fashion. That was just one of many and I don't

8 recall anything particular about her reaction to it.

9 Q. As far as you are aware, did she report it to the

10 police?

11 A. I am not sure.

12 Q. You do not know?

13 A. I don't know.

14 Q. As far as you are aware, did it prompt her into any

15 further action, for instance, about her own security?

16 A. No.

17 Q. No?

18 A. No.

19 Q. Did you discuss that question with her at this stage?

20 A. Yes, I think -- I think it was around that time that we

21 did have certain conversations about her security but,

22 as I say, she was a bit -- not blas but -- I can

23 remember her saying at one stage, I think it was around

24 this time, that at this time she even forgot to lock the

25 back door of her house at nights, that sort of thing.

 

 

31

 

1 I remember saying to her she was very silly, but other

2 than that, no.

3 Q. Is this the conversation you mention in paragraph 25 of

4 your statement -- if you look at RNI-841-058

5 (displayed) -- where you say you remember speaking to

6 her about taking precautions but she would laugh and say

7 that most nights she forgot to lock her doors?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And you said that she should vary her routine?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Did she ever do that?

12 A. No, she tended to park her car in the same place down in

13 the car park just below the office every day.

14 Q. Now, that is the next thing you deal with in your police

15 statement at RNI-830-195 (displayed). If you look at

16 the bottom of the page, you say:

17 "The next thing I can recall was an occasion when

18 Mrs Nelson had told me that while she returned to her

19 parked car in William Street car park from the office,

20 four persons had drove up beside her and glared at her

21 and then drove off. This had occurred some time before

22 Christmas 1998."

23 Do you see that?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So this was where she always parked her car?

 

 

32

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. She didn't vary that routine?

3 A. No, not that I am aware of. I remember she told me

4 about that. That was the first time that I actually saw

5 a reaction from her, that that did sort of scare her

6 a bit.

7 Q. That worried her?

8 A. That worried her. That was the first time I saw that

9 sort of reaction from her to any threats or anything

10 that happened to her.

11 Q. This was just before Christmas 1998?

12 A. Yes, that would have been, yes.

13 Q. And she mentioned it to you, the incident?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Did she report it?

16 A. I don't know, I don't know.

17 Q. Did it prompt her into any particular action? Did she,

18 for instance, change her parking place?

19 A. Not that I am aware of, no.

20 Q. But you say that was the first time you felt that she

21 seemed concerned or scared?

22 A. Yes, it definitely had an effect on her.

23 Q. You also say at about that same time she showed you

24 a card-type document in poor spelling bearing words to

25 the effect:

 

 

33

 

1 "We know where you are"?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. So this was in the same conversation, was it?

4 A. I am not sure whether it was the same conversation. It

5 would have been around the same time, but I am not sure

6 whether it was actually the same day or not.

7 Q. What I am trying to get from you is how was it that she

8 came to show you the threat card. Can you remember the

9 context?

10 A. Again, it was -- most mornings we would have a cup of

11 coffee in her room. That was nearly every morning. We

12 would have chatted for an hour and things like that she

13 would have brought up. So it was just during those

14 morning coffee chats, basically.

15 Q. Can I just also check this with you: this threat card,

16 card-type document, you call it in your police

17 statement, is this the same as the document you referred

18 to in your statement to the Inquiry in paragraph 26? If

19 you look at that at RNI-841-059 (displayed), you say in

20 the second line:

21 "I remember she received a threatening letter a few

22 weeks before she was killed, and she was laughing and

23 joking about the bad spelling in the note she had

24 received."

25 Is this the same note, do you think?

 

 

34

 

1 A. No, I think that was a different one because I don't

2 think she showed me that first one. I think she was

3 just telling me about it, and I remember she made

4 a comment to the effect that, you know, there's no point

5 being scared of somebody who can't spell properly; in

6 other words, they wouldn't be able to do anything,

7 seriously carry out the threats if they're of that

8 limited intelligence, if they couldn't spell properly.

9 That was the context of her feeling towards it.

10 Q. So we are looking at two different documents?

11 A. Yes, because I don't recall her showing me the first

12 one, that one I am talking about.

13 Q. So you say in your statement that she didn't show you

14 the threatening letter which was badly spelled about

15 which she was laughing and joking?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. So we can take it then, can we, that that is a different

18 threat note to the one you referred to in your police

19 statement at RNI-830-196 (displayed), which also was

20 poorly spelt, where you say:

21 "Mrs Nelson --

22 A. Yes, she did. She showed me the second one, the card,

23 but not the first one that we have just been discussing.

24 Q. So this laughing and joking a few weeks before she was

25 killed, did that fairly reflect her attitude to notes of

 

 

35

 

1 this kind?

2 A. Yes, I think so. I think she just -- she didn't really

3 take them -- not just didn't take them seriously, but

4 sort of on that occasion -- that that was her opinion,

5 you know, that someone who couldn't spell properly

6 wouldn't be able to carry out any meaningful threats in

7 reality. And as I said before, I don't think she felt

8 that the threats would be carried out in practice, that

9 they were more to intimidate her than an actual threat

10 to be carried out.

11 Q. Do you think that is why she didn't change her routine

12 and, as far as you know, she didn't take security

13 precautions?

14 A. I can only assume so, yes.

15 Q. Because she didn't take them seriously?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. So what was it, then, about the --

18 A. Not that she didn't take them seriously. It was just

19 that she had been getting threats for so long, she just

20 assumed if they hadn't been carried out by then, they

21 wouldn't be carried out. But I don't recall them having

22 the effect that she actually took any proactive steps in

23 terms of security, in terms of, you know, where she

24 parked her car or even access to the office. You know,

25 it was very easy for anyone to get into.

 

 

36

 

1 So there was no steps taken in terms of that.

2 Q. So did you ever discuss with her this question of her

3 getting help with security?

4 A. I remember there was talk of whether she should get

5 security. I think at that stage some members of the

6 Garvaghy Road had got some type of security and -- but,

7 you know, she didn't -- she didn't make a big issue of

8 it, you know. I think it might have been more other

9 people were pressing for it more than Rosemary herself

10 actually was.

11 Q. Other people pressing on her behalf but not her?

12 A. Yes, that is my impression.

13 Q. The impression you give us in paragraph 27 is that her

14 general approach was just to, well, not to give these

15 threats or notes, or whatever they were, much

16 consideration at all?

17 A. Yes, that's my impression. She didn't feel that they

18 were -- I think she found them -- more harass her rather

19 than a direct physical threat.

20 Q. Do you think that was genuinely her feeling about them

21 or do you think it was something of a front?

22 A. I would have thought it was her general feeling, because

23 when we were talking -- as I said, most mornings we did

24 for an hour or so -- she would have been fairly relaxed,

25 and I got the impression that she was saying what she

 

 

37

 

1 felt, that she wasn't telling me in any sort of formal

2 context or for any purpose other than that. We were

3 just chatting over a cup of coffee. I can only assume

4 that that was her feeling.

5 Q. But you must have been struck then, if that was her

6 general approach, by her reaction to the incident in the

7 car park where you say she seemed scared?

8 A. Yes, that is why -- that is why I recall it, because it

9 was so different from how she reacted on other

10 occasions.

11 Q. Could you work out from what she told you what it was

12 about that incident that had frightened her?

13 A. Just the -- I can remember she said the looks on their

14 faces. The car slowed down and just -- I don't think it

15 stopped. She said it just slowed down. I think there

16 was four people in the car and they just all, you know,

17 give her a long stare and then drove off. And it

18 definitely did -- frightened would be too strong a word,

19 but it certainly made her feel very uneasy.

20 Q. Was there any other incident while you were working with

21 her in the office that elicited that sort of reaction

22 from her?

23 A. No. That is why it sticks in my mind that her reaction

24 was so different.

25 Q. Right. Those are the only matters I wish to cover with

 

 

38

 

1 you, Mr Vernon, but if there is anything else we haven't

2 covered in the course of our discussions, this is your

3 chance to raise it with the Inquiry panel.

4 A. No, I think we have covered everything, thank you.

5 Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN

6 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Mr Vernon, just a few points, if I may.

7 You made it perfectly clear to us that you only went to

8 see a relatively small group of clients in the holding

9 centre.

10 A. Yes.

11 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: And again, you have made it clear that

12 including C208, some of those clients alleged that they

13 had been intimidated by police officers at the holding

14 centre.

15 A. Yes.

16 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Can you tell us, please, whether to

17 your knowledge any of those occasions resulted in your

18 clients making false admissions as a consequence of

19 being threatened?

20 A. Making false admissions?

21 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Yes, as a consequence of being

22 threatened.

23 A. No, no, no.

24 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Or whether they made statements to the

25 police containing any false information as a consequence

 

 

39

 

1 of being threatened?

2 A. Not that I am aware of.

3 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Or whether your firm subsequently had

4 to deal with any cases where clients had been charged as

5 a consequence of having admissions forced out of them by

6 the alleged treatment of police officers?

7 A. No, not that I am aware of.

8 SIR ANTHONY BURDEN: Okay, thank you.

9 Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN

10 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: I have a couple of questions. First

11 of all, you mentioned in, I think, paragraph 22 of your

12 statement, you drew a contrast between the attitude of

13 the Lurgan police and your experience in Belfast.

14 I just wanted to check with you whether your

15 experience in Belfast had brought you into contact with

16 police who were dealing with alleged terrorist offences?

17 A. No, no.

18 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Okay, thank you. That was the first

19 question.

20 The second one was the very last discussion you were

21 having with Mr Phillips about the men who drove up and

22 looked at Rosemary Nelson and that appeared to make an

23 impact on her.

24 A. Yes.

25 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: I guess I am asking you to speculate

 

 

40

 

1 at this point, but do you think it was the reality of

2 actually seeing a threat face-to-face that made the

3 difference?

4 A. I would think so. You know, as I said, she was probably

5 just so used to getting the letters and the phone calls

6 that they were easy to pass off. As you say, it is

7 speculation, but when you actually see the whites of

8 somebody's eyes glaring at you in an obviously

9 intimidatory manner, yes, I think that probably did

10 bring it home more to her than a letter, a phone call,

11 would have done. That definitely made her very uneasy.

12 DAME VALERIE STRACHAN: Thank you.

13 MR DONALDSON: May I make an observation, please.

14 THE CHAIRMAN: What is the observation?

15 MR DONALDSON: In accordance with the protocols of this

16 Tribunal, we have furnished questions to counsel. We

17 have furnished a list of questions in relation to this

18 witness.

19 Now, I am afraid -- and I am reluctant to intervene

20 in this respect -- but all of those questions have not

21 been asked and I would like to raise that, if I may.

22 Perhaps I could raise it with Mr Phillips.

23 THE CHAIRMAN: We will consider at a later stage this

24 morning your request, but you can consider it with

25 Mr Phillips and if there are any questions that

 

 

41

 

1 Mr Phillips thinks are proper and pertinent questions to

2 ask this witness, he will ask them. Otherwise you will

3 have to provide us with a list of those questions which

4 you submit should be asked of this witness and we will

5 then consider them and decide whether we give you

6 permission to ask them.

7 MR DONALDSON: Yes, sir, thank you.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: We will adjourn now for quarter of an hour.

9 (11.15 am)

10 (Short break)

11 (11.30 am)

12 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips.

13 Questions by MR PHILLIPS (continued)

14 MR PHILLIPS: Sir, I have had a discussion with Mr Donaldson

15 and agreed to put some more questions to Mr Vernon.

16 Mr Vernon, they cover a range of different areas and

17 the first is this: Do you remember I asked you

18 yesterday about Rosemary Nelson's own views about the

19 police, her feelings about the police? Do you remember

20 that?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Now, what I wanted to ask you is this: in a statement

23 given to the Inquiry by Mr Cumaraswamy's assistant,

24 Mr Parra, he says that Rosemary Nelson had absolute

25 disdain and hatred for the police. Do you agree with

 

 

42

 

1 that suggestion?

2 A. No, I wouldn't go that far. Certainly -- I think what

3 happened was that the more contact she had with them and

4 the more contact clients had with them and the more

5 feedback she got from clients as to how they were

6 treated by the police, certainly I think she lost a lot

7 of respect for them. And whether it went as far as sort

8 of disdain or hatred I am not sure, but certainly I

9 think it is fair to say that it got to the stage where

10 she had no respect for them and -- she felt that they

11 weren't acting as they should have done as a police

12 force and that they were acting illegally in many cases.

13 Q. Is that view based on conversations you had with her

14 yourself?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. So far as the dealings you had with clients and the

17 questions asked by Sir Anthony Burden just before the

18 short adjournment, can I ask you this question: was it

19 your experience that terrorist suspects maintained their

20 right to silence during interviews conducted by the

21 police?

22 A. Yes, I would say that would be a fair comment. I think

23 it is fair to say that, you know, by the time I started

24 with Rosemary, late 1997 and 1998, there would have been

25 less of that type of work than there maybe would have

 

 

43

 

1 been before I started. But, yes, I think that would

2 have been a fair summary of what the advice would have

3 been to clients, not to respond to a question.

4 Q. So the advice given by the firm to clients would have

5 been to remain silent?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Is that right?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. In all cases?

10 A. Yes, I think that in all cases and -- where then perhaps

11 in the case of C208, if they received a particular

12 caution, then, as in his case, a statement would have

13 been handed in giving, you know, his version of or

14 answering what the questions were. But, for example, he

15 would particularly have been advised not to answer

16 questions himself, but simply to hand in the statement.

17 Q. You have dealt with this question of advice, but were

18 there clients investigated for terrorist offences that

19 you dealt with who, as it were, didn't need that advice,

20 who had already elected to remain silent?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. So in that sense, the advice was, as it were, purely

23 confirmation of what they had decided to do in any

24 event?

25 A. Yes, absolutely.

 

 

44

 

1 Q. Turning to the question of complaints, we have looked at

2 a couple of examples of matters that turned into

3 complaints, although you have told us you didn't deal

4 with them personally.

5 Can I just ask you about the complaints system which

6 was then in place. Did you, as a solicitor, have

7 confidence in the ICPC properly to supervise the

8 police's investigation of such complaints?

9 A. I can't recall whether I had any confidence or lack of

10 confidence, to be honest. As I said, in particular --

11 the main time I was really involved in that sort of --

12 would have been with Rosemary and, as I say, Rosemary

13 herself would have dealt with that sort of work.

14 When I joined the office, there had been two

15 solicitors and then there was just myself. So I was

16 very much taken up with, you know, the ordinary sort of

17 stuff. All the complaints would have been dealt totally

18 by Rosemary. So I don't honestly think I had enough

19 contact with them to really form a judgment.

20 Q. Right, thank you.

21 Now, you talked to us about threats of various kinds

22 that you had experienced of during your work for the

23 practice and you mentioned just a little earlier the

24 telephone calls, et cetera. Another witness to the

25 Inquiry, Mr Sheridan, the husband of Annette Sheridan,

 

 

45

 

1 has told us that at one stage there was a file

2 containing threat documents which he mentioned his wife

3 brought home on one occasion. Were you aware of the

4 existence of such a file?

5 A. No.

6 Q. Did you ever see it?

7 A. No.

8 Q. Did you ever hear anybody talk about it?

9 A. No.

10 Q. Was any form of reference to the existence of such

11 a file ever made that you can recall during the time you

12 worked at the office?

13 A. Not a file as such. I was aware that a number of

14 letters, threats, had been received, but in terms it

15 actually where they were stored or in what way they were

16 stored or if they were stored, I don't know.

17 Q. In paragraph 27 of your statement in relation to the

18 threatening letter, you say:

19 "I think she just generally threw them out without

20 giving them much consideration."

21 A. Yes. As I say, I have no knowledge of what was done

22 with them. I just don't know. I was just aware that

23 they had been received. But what happened to them or

24 where they were stored or not stored -- certainly

25 I never saw them. So I can only assume -- as I say, I

 

 

46

 

1 can only assume that, given Rosemary's attitude towards

2 them, she might have thrown them out. But, as I say,

3 I never saw them or never discussed with her what she

4 did with them.

5 THE CHAIRMAN: Did she tell you she had thrown them out?

6 A. No.

7 THE CHAIRMAN: Did you ever see her throw any out?

8 A. No.

9 MR PHILLIPS: So that is just a bit of speculation?

10 A. Yes, I am just assuming, yes.

11 Q. Yes. Now, I asked you yesterday about a particular

12 client, about Mr Duffy. I now want to ask you

13 a question about her clients more generally.

14 Was she in the habit of associating socially with

15 her clients outside work?

16 A. I don't know. As I say, I lived in Belfast, so I just

17 drove to Lurgan in the morning and drove home again at

18 night. So I wasn't from the town. I didn't stay in the

19 town. So what Rosemary did after hours, I couldn't say.

20 Q. You weren't aware of that?

21 A. No.

22 Q. Then finally, you told us right at the outset, I think,

23 of your evidence that you still act for Mr Duffy in

24 relation to his civil claim?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

47

 

1 Q. Without getting into privileged material, which

2 obviously I don't want you to do, can you explain

3 briefly why it is that case is still ongoing?

4 A. Mainly because of the refusal of the Crown solicitors to

5 divulge documentation, which have been pressing for for

6 a considerable period of time and which we are still

7 pressing for.

8 Q. Thank you very much.

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Vernon, thank you for coming to give

10 evidence today and also yesterday.

11 A. Thank you.

12 THE CHAIRMAN: We will adjourn now until 2 o'clock.

13 (11.46 am)

14 (The short adjournment)

15 (2.00 pm)

16 SIR LOUIS BLOM-COOPER (affirmed)

17 Questions by MR PHILLIPS

18 MR PHILLIPS: Sir Louis, can you give the Inquiry your full

19 names.

20 A. Louis Jacques Blom-Cooper.

21 Q. Do you have in front of you there the statement you have

22 made to the Inquiry?

23 A. I do.

24 Q. Can we have it on the screen, please at RNI-802-001

25 (displayed). If we turn over to RNI-802-010

 

 

48

 

1 (displayed), do we see your signature there of

2 4th January 2007?

3 A. Just a moment.

4 Q. Thank you.

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Thank you. I think it is right that you have also,

7 during the course of yesterday and today, received some

8 further documents from the Inquiry, which you have had

9 a chance to look at?

10 A. An important one only this morning.

11 Q. Thank you. Now, you tell us right at the beginning of

12 your statement how you came, in 1992, to be approached,

13 I think by the Secretary of State at that stage,

14 Sir Patrick Mayhew, with a view to taking up this post?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. At that stage, as I understand it you were in practice

17 at the English Bar?

18 A. I would like to think so.

19 Q. You had taken silk, I think, in 1970?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And you were a bencher of the Middle Temple?

22 A. I am.

23 Q. You had already chaired the Jasmine Beckford Inquiry?

24 A. That was the first of many.

25 Q. You have taken on other inquiries, since, have you?

 

 

49

 

1 A. Yes, I did a second child abuse inquiry two years later,

2 Kimberley Carlisle, for Greenwich Borough Council. Then

3 I moved. I think I then did one or two in the West

4 Indies: I did one in the Turks and Caicos Islands for

5 the Foreign Secretary. The big one was Ashworth in

6 1991/1992.

7 Q. But at that stage in 1992 when you were first

8 approached, I think you hadn't had much connection with

9 Northern Ireland. Is that right?

10 A. Only a very little.

11 Q. And how was the approach to you first made?

12 A. By telephone.

13 Q. And what was the role outlined to you?

14 A. I think that Sir Patrick had outlined the problem, which

15 was a fairly steady stream of complaints about

16 ill-treatment of detainees at the holding centres, and

17 of course that was my sole remit.

18 THE CHAIRMAN: Could you just wait a moment. The screens

19 are not working properly.

20 MR PHILLIPS: I am so sorry.

21 THE CHAIRMAN: I am sorry, Sir Louis. (Pause)

22 MR PHILLIPS: Sir Louis, you were explaining the problem as

23 the Secretary of State put it.

24 A. Yes. Most of the complaints were coming, as

25 I understood it, from the United States, from the

 

 

50

 

1 Lawyers Committee on Human Rights and he was very

2 concerned that some safeguards ought to be put in place

3 in order to stem the tide of these complaints which were

4 getting stronger as the months went by.

5 Q. It looks as though some months elapsed between your

6 first approach, which you say in paragraph 2 was May

7 or June that year, 1992 --

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. -- and your official appointment in December?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Was there some discussion about your precise remit

12 during that period?

13 A. Yes. I can correct it slightly. The statement was made

14 by Sir Patrick in a debate in June of 1992. Of course,

15 the Conservative government had just come into office

16 then and my recollection is -- it doesn't matter about

17 the date, but somewhere around the summer of 1992 I had

18 a conversation with him and I then attended at the

19 Northern Ireland Office in London. And on a video, I

20 had a conversation with the officials who indicated to

21 me what was the nature of the problem and some

22 description of the holding centres, which I had never

23 seen.

24 Q. So at that stage, you had never seen any of the holding

25 centres. What did you know of them?

 

 

51

 

1 A. Very little.

2 Q. And so presumably your knowledge, as set out later in

3 this statement, derived from your actual experience when

4 you came into post and began to visit yourself?

5 A. Yes. I mean, I remember I put my appointment down, I

6 think, to 16th December and on that day I went with the

7 Permanent Secretary to the Northern Ireland Office,

8 Sir John Chilcot. He and I went to see

9 Sir Hugh Annesley, and I was welcomed by Sir Hugh whom

10 I knew vaguely from past connections.

11 Q. And you say that the Chief Constable, the current

12 Chief Constable, was very much in favour of your

13 position?

14 A. Yes, indeed. And I think, as time went on, I think the

15 police force, the Ulster Constabulary, became very

16 accepting of my appointment.

17 Q. So they welcomed the involvement of an independent

18 overseer in the system, did they?

19 A. I think there was a little suspicion in the early days

20 but I like to think that one overcame that.

21 Q. What was the reaction from local lawyers and

22 non-governmental organisations?

23 A. I am afraid I do not know, primarily because I had so

24 little contact with them.

25 I mean, so far as the centres were concerned, the

 

 

52

 

1 lawyers coming to visit their clients, the detainees,

2 would go to the visiting section and interview their

3 clients, and it would be fairly rare for me to be

4 actually on the premises. If I was on the premises,

5 then I used to take the opportunity of talking to them.

6 Q. Now, in paragraph 3 on the next page, RNI-802-002

7 (displayed), you talk about your remit in the second

8 line. You say it was contained in a memorandum?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. I'm afraid we don't have the memorandum, but can I ask

11 to you look at a document at RNI-402-149 (displayed).

12 It has come up on the screen for you. Can you see it

13 there?

14 A. Yes, I can.

15 Q. This, so you know, is an extract from a British Irish

16 Rights Watch report. The passage I want you to look at,

17 please, is in 3.2. Do you see there is an indented and

18 quoted section there and it says that this is what

19 I assume is an extract from your terms of reference?

20 A. I have no reason to quarrel with that.

21 Q. And so that encapsulates, does it, your remit? In other

22 words:

23 "To provide further assurance to the Secretary of

24 State that persons detained in the holding centres are

25 fairly treated and that both statutory and

 

 

53

 

1 administrative safeguards are being properly applied"?

2 A. Yes. Of course, what was important, what is omitted

3 from this part of the statement is that I was not

4 a complaints officer. If I received any complaints, I

5 had no remit to investigate myself and my duty was to

6 pass it on to the complaints unit in the RUC.

7 Q. Well, indeed, that is something, as we will see in

8 a moment, that you actually did in one particular case.

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. But can I ask you this: what of the suggestion that in

11 your role you were not truly independent of government?

12 A. Well, I can only say that I always regarded myself as

13 independent and I think it is worth looking at the

14 third -- the third annual report, which is RNI-464 at --

15 Q. Is it RNI-464-304 (displayed)?

16 A. It is indeed. It is rather interesting. When there was

17 a challenge to my suggestion to the legal advice unit

18 which came from the United States, a thoroughly

19 respectable body and a very respectable academic, you

20 will see in paragraph 1:

21 "Despite being told in the letter of 14th June that

22 it was incorrect to describe me as an official,

23 Professor Flaherty continues to convey to his US and

24 other readers that I am an agent of the United Kingdom

25 ... I am not."

 

 

54

 

1 And I never regarded myself at any time as an agent

2 of the British Government. And I think, if I may say

3 so, I think Sir Patrick selected me simply because I was

4 not regarded as an instrument of government.

5 Q. Thank you. Now, in the same paragraph, paragraph 3, you

6 say that it was originally suggested to you that you

7 should operate with three local lawyers --

8 A. Yes, indeed.

9 Q. -- acting as your deputies. Can I ask why were you

10 opposed to that suggestion?

11 A. Because instinctively I felt that if one was monitoring

12 what was going on in the centres and seeking to avoid

13 any questions of ill-treatment, I have always taken the

14 view that a combination of lawyer and medic was rather

15 more helpful than having one or more lawyers. And in

16 fact it worked extremely well. I mean, on some of the

17 issues that were raised, particularly mental health

18 problems, it was very helpful to have Dr Norris by my

19 side.

20 Q. He became your deputy and was a consultant psychiatrist,

21 I think, wasn't he?

22 A. He was.

23 Q. When you say in your statement that you recognised the

24 risk of being outnumbered by the local lawyers, what do

25 you mean?

 

 

55

 

1 A. Well, I just thought that if I was to accede to the

2 requests that Sir Patrick was making, here I was across

3 the water coming from time to time and with my three,

4 I suppose, deputies in the three centres being local

5 lawyers who would be visiting regularly and if issues

6 arose, I think I would be at a disadvantage, that is

7 all, in arguing for a particular policy.

8 Q. But so far as the system as you put it in place is

9 concerned, namely with you on the one hand and your

10 deputy, the consultant psychiatrist, on the other, you

11 think that worked reasonably well?

12 A. I would put it higher. It worked well.

13 Q. Thank you. In terms of the actual visits that you paid,

14 you say in paragraph 4 that in the early days you would

15 visit for periods of about three days once a fortnight?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Did that continue to be your pattern throughout your

18 tenure?

19 A. No. I think after 1994, when the first ceasefire was

20 brought into existence, the numbers were substantially

21 reduced in the holding centres, and I think I referred

22 to that in my report somewhere. And as a result of

23 that, I came, I think, less frequently than three days

24 a fortnight.

25 Q. But as far as your deputy was concerned, did he visit

 

 

56

 

1 more often?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. He was local, of course?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And I think I have seen reference in the course of your

6 reports to the number of his visits being substantially

7 greater than your own?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. And was that something contemplated between the two of

10 you from the beginning?

11 A. I think so.

12 Q. Now, so far as your visits and the meetings with those

13 involved in the holding centres, which you mention in

14 the same paragraph, 4, were they formal meetings with

15 minutes and notes taken or were they more of the nature

16 of an informal chat?

17 A. Utterly unformal. I mean, I visited -- I used to make

18 it a business of actually talking to the detainees who

19 were locked up. Of course I talked to police officers.

20 Occasionally a problem might arise and I would indicate

21 to a police officer what I thought ought to be done.

22 There was a case, for example, of a detainee who was

23 quite clearly, I thought, mentally disordered and I

24 think I had some expertise in that field and I simply

25 said to the police officer, "Look, I think he should

 

 

57

 

1 have a social worker attending any interview you want to

2 have with him" and that was readily accepted. And in

3 the course of the years, I mean, I have thought the real

4 value of the independent commissioner was this ability

5 to be able to influence the behaviour of police officers

6 who were having the custody of detainees.

7 Q. A little earlier, you --

8 A. Could I just -- there is a nice reference to that in the

9 statements Sir Patrick Mayhew made in answer to my

10 report on the legal advice units. It is at RNI-464-304

11 (displayed). It is that same page as I read the

12 paragraph from Professor Flaherty at this. But if you

13 look in the middle of the page:

14 "The Independent Commissioner's proposal set forth

15 raises grave human rights concerns, impugns the

16 established right ..."

17 And so on. Then there is a passage:

18 "Professor Flaherty's article is annexed to this

19 report. In a letter to me, the Secretary of State on

20 14th November 1994 said that he was sure that whatever

21 the future holds, your reasoned and detailed study of

22 the whole issue of legal advice to detainees will be of

23 interest to many people."

24 That is of peculiar resonance today, I think.

25 Q. Yes. Well, on that question of legal advice and

 

 

58

 

1 specifically lawyers, you said a little earlier, I

2 think, that because of the way the holding centres were

3 set up, you didn't have many meetings with defence

4 lawyers?

5 A. Very few.

6 Q. Very few. Did you ever find yourself in a position of

7 wanting to have a conversation with a defence lawyer and

8 that being refused?

9 A. No.

10 Q. So you would take the opportunity, would you, of talking

11 to the lawyers as much as to the police, the detainees

12 and everybody else involved?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Thank you. One of the points you make in your statement

15 about the way you operated your role in practice is that

16 your visits were unannounced?

17 A. Originally, of course, the memorandum didn't contain

18 that and I asked the Secretary of State if it could it

19 be amended to indicate that they would be unannounced.

20 Q. So that wasn't something which was expressly set out in

21 your remit?

22 A. No, it wasn't.

23 Q. But you had it amended?

24 A. I had.

25 Q. So as to achieve a situation, what, then, which

 

 

59

 

1 permitted you simply to turn up?

2 A. Absolutely, unannounced.

3 Q. Unannounced. So no notice was given?

4 A. Well, sir, I have no doubt that people sitting at the

5 airport might have seen my comings and goings, but

6 you -- I don't wish to make a pun of it, but anonymity

7 isn't available to you.

8 Q. Why was it that you were particularly concerned to

9 change your remit in that way?

10 A. Well, of course, it was my practice in any event, but

11 I thought that it ought to be expressed in the terms of

12 reference so that everyone understood that I didn't go,

13 as it were, by arrangement with the police, either

14 generally or at the holding centres.

15 Q. Could a visit have been vetoed?

16 A. I think somewhere there is a suggestion that I could

17 be vetoed. It never was.

18 Q. It never was in practice?

19 A. No.

20 Q. Perhaps it would help to look at that. You have

21 remembered it absolutely correctly. It is another

22 British Irish Rights Watch report. It is at RNI-115-095

23 (displayed) at the bottom of the page. Do you have

24 that?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

60

 

1 Q. Do you see 5.2?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. And under the citation from your terms of reference,

4 a description of your role, and then the point we have

5 just been looking at. Then it says:

6 "Until December 1994, he ..."

7 That is you:

8 "... was not allowed to remain present during police

9 interrogations, but now he may do so with the consent of

10 the detainee. However, the police officer in charge of

11 the centre can veto his presence."

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Did that ever happen in practice?

14 A. No.

15 Q. This second change --

16 A. Can I just qualify that? Not to my knowledge, so that

17 if it happened it was a rarity. But I don't think I was

18 ever vetoed. But, of course, I can't talk for

19 Dr Norris.

20 Q. No. Now, so far as the previous sentence is concerned,

21 as I understand it, originally you were not permitted to

22 be present during interviews?

23 A. That's right.

24 Q. But again, this is something that you yourself had

25 changed. Is that right?

 

 

61

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. And there, as I understand it from your statement, the

3 veto was in the hands of the detainee himself or

4 herself?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. And as you say in paragraph 5 of your statement -- and

7 we have now moved to the top of RNI-802-003

8 (displayed) -- with one exception you were not refused

9 consent by a detainee?

10 A. That's right.

11 Q. Can I just ask you to look at the position as it was

12 in December 1994 when you requested this other change?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Why was it that you were particularly concerned to be

15 present in interviews?

16 A. I thought that the existing system, which was simply an

17 inspector being able to view an interrogation taking

18 place, was less than satisfactory.

19 I can remember police officers saying, "Of course,

20 we can tell from the body language what is happening

21 between the two of them", and I said, "Body language is

22 very deceptive." So I simply took the view that until

23 we could have a system of video and audio recordings,

24 which of course eventually I got, the safeguard was

25 inadequate.

 

 

62

 

1 Q. Well, that is the next topic I wanted to raise with you,

2 because from your first report, as I understand it, you

3 called for the introduction of audio and video recording

4 of interviews?

5 A. Yes, I did.

6 Q. And as I understand it also, you persisted in those

7 calls right up until the time when eventually, I think

8 in 1998, those changes were brought in?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And so in the meanwhile during the period when you were

11 making calls but they were not in fact being answered,

12 what was the point? What was the object of yourself

13 sitting in with the interviews?

14 A. Well, I thought it was a step towards some kind of

15 monitoring of what went on. Of course it was wholly

16 inadequate. I can't remember the number of cases that

17 I actually sat in, but I think the fingers of perhaps

18 four hands over three or four years I sat in on

19 interviews.

20 I must say they were the most dreary experiences,

21 because almost all the detainees, I think almost without

22 exception, never answered any question at all. Someone

23 sat in the back of room and I fear occasionally dropped

24 off to sleep.

25 Q. So your experience then was that almost invariably the

 

 

63

 

1 detainee kept entirely quiet and silent, and the

2 questions were solemnly put to him and no answer was

3 given?

4 A. Precisely.

5 Q. Can I just ask you for a little more detail about why it

6 was that you called for the introduction of the audio

7 and video taping of interviews?

8 A. Well, I think from almost day one I saw that as being

9 the ultimate way of monitoring what took place in

10 interrogations. I mean, one has got to remember this is

11 ten years after PACE and one had seem the enormous

12 change in the criminal justice system in England and

13 Wales as a result of that. And I think I was sort of

14 very imbued with the notion that the great changes in

15 our system came in 1984 with PACE and so I was keen

16 that, as far as possible, having regard to the context

17 of detaining suspected terrorists, as far as possible to

18 replicate that.

19 Q. What did you see as the likely benefits of that

20 introduction?

21 A. Oh, I think the benefit is that the police officers who

22 are conducting the interrogations know that they are

23 being watched and heard and seen, and I think I can say

24 that after day one of my appointment -- and I don't put

25 it down to myself -- but after day one of the

 

 

64

 

1 appointment, I don't think there was ever a complaint of

2 any ill-treatment of a detainee in the holding centres.

3 Q. Of which you were aware?

4 A. Of which I was aware, yes. No complaints came to me.

5 There were complaints that came, which were complaints

6 of ill-treatment from the time of arrest and sometimes

7 on the journey to the holding centre. But with one

8 exception, which was litigated over -- I think a case

9 called [name redacted] -- there was never any issue over

10 any ill-treatment at the centres.

11 I just think that is a testimony to the post itself.

12 If you can put in place that kind of safeguard, it

13 doesn't matter who is holding the office.

14 Q. So the recording then would allow for obviously an

15 entirely objective version of the events that had

16 occurred in the interview room. Is that the point?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And presumably it works both ways; in other words, it

19 not only records what is said or not said by the

20 interviewing officers, but also whether or not the

21 substance in allegations made about the conduct of the

22 interviews by detainees?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. So that in that sense, surely, it acts as a measure of

25 control on both sides?

 

 

65

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. Thank you. At the end of your paragraph 5, you say in

3 the last sentence -- again, we are still on RNI-803-003

4 (displayed) now if it can be enlarged on the screen --

5 that both you and the Rapporteur came to the conclusion

6 that we have just been discussing, and then you say in

7 parenthesis:

8 "... (albeit a conclusion that we each reached in

9 different ways)."

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. What did you have in mind?

12 A. Do you know, I can't remember why I put it that way.

13 I just -- I think re-reading Mr Cumaraswamy's report,

14 I got the distinct impression that he was coming from

15 a slightly different viewpoint than my own, but arriving

16 at the same result; that is to say, total surveillance.

17 Q. We will look at his reports in a minute. Can I just ask

18 you to help us with one further matter in this section

19 of your statement, and it is in paragraph 6.

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. You say in the second sentence that:

22 "Ronnie Flanagan had at one time been in charge of

23 the Castlereagh holding centre."

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Was that during your period of office?

 

 

66

 

1 A. No, I think it was long before. He was the inspector in

2 charge of the holding centre at Castlereagh and I think

3 that went back to the 1980s. I certainly never met him

4 on site, as it were.

5 The only -- I mean, I had met him occasionally --

6 odd occasions and I think we perhaps talked about

7 holding centres, but I mean, I really had no contact

8 with him, certainly no official contact with him, until

9 he became Chief Constable in 1996.

10 Q. Can I just, before we move on in this statement, ask you

11 a further question about something you have just

12 mentioned to us, namely activity or interest in the

13 holding centres coming from the United States of

14 America?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. And you touch on this again in paragraph 17. Could you

17 just have a look at that, RNI-802-008 (displayed). This

18 is the final sentence of that paragraph. You say:

19 "It is fair to say that when I took up my role, I

20 was very conscious of the huge activity coming out of

21 the US and the fact that US-based committees on human

22 rights were hugely active."

23 So was that activity and the interest that they took

24 something that came across your desk, if I can put it in

25 that way?

 

 

67

 

1 A. Not across my desk in the sense that it actively

2 required my attention, but I was aware of it. And

3 Edmund Lynch, who is mentioned here, certainly got in

4 touch with me on more than one occasion. There is one

5 letter from him. He was a fairly persistent advocate

6 for what he regarded as human rights in the holding

7 centres and he was very active.

8 Q. Is this something you were conscious of from the moment

9 you started in 1992?

10 A. I think so, certainly fairly soon after. And I was very

11 conscious also that the officials at the

12 Northern Ireland Office were very actively engaged in

13 trying to persuade Americans that the British Government

14 was in fact concerned about human rights in the holding

15 centres and were taking steps to deal with it, and

16 particularly of course my appointment.

17 Q. So your appointment was part of their answer, in

18 a sense --

19 A. Absolutely.

20 Q. -- to the NGO interest from the United States?

21 A. Yes, absolutely.

22 Q. His organisation we know is the Lawyers Alliance for

23 Justice in Ireland. You mentioned another organisation

24 a little earlier, a human rights organisation.

25 A. Yes.

 

 

68

 

1 Q. Which is that?

2 A. That is based in New York. Professor Flaherty, whom

3 I mentioned, was a very active member of it and I am

4 afraid names are a difficulty for me nowadays but he was

5 not the director of the unit; it was a very high powered

6 and a very responsible body producing rather good

7 reports.

8 Q. So there were a number of such bodies, were there,

9 focusing their attention on the holding centres?

10 A. Yes, I think so.

11 Q. What were their aims? What were their campaigning

12 points, if I can put it that way?

13 A. I think they vary enormously. There are pressure groups

14 and pressure groups. I always like to think, having

15 been a member of pressure groups in my past -- I think

16 pressure groups are to be listened to and very carefully

17 listened to, but one must always keep one's objective

18 judgment at the end of the day. And I think pressure

19 groups find that sometimes a little difficult.

20 Q. Other than the example you have given us of Mr Lynch's

21 correspondence, were there other occasions while you

22 were holding this post that pressure groups sought to

23 influence your thinking or your decision-making?

24 A. Yes, but not oppressively so. To a limited extent they

25 were. The British Human Rights Watch was certainly

 

 

69

 

1 quite active. CAJ were quite active, but I can't

2 remember anybody else really being very active.

3 Q. Now I would like to ask you, please, about the comments

4 you make in your statement about solicitors.

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. This begins in paragraph 7. And you say there that the

7 first time you are aware of a suggestion of

8 unprofessional conduct by some solicitors was, you

9 think, in 1993/1994. Is that right?

10 A. I think so.

11 Q. And the suggestion came to you from police officers at

12 the holding centres, did it?

13 A. I think over the first year or two that I was in post,

14 and I think this was also Dr Norris's view, one picked

15 up off conversations one had with police officers

16 indicating that they were untrustful in some respects of

17 some of the solicitors coming to the centres. And could

18 I say, of course, from my point of view I think that

19 problem had been resolved by Parliament, because the

20 section in the terrorist legislation at that time

21 provided for a deferral of access for 48 hours, and it

22 could be increased. And in my early days that was not

23 terribly frequent. By the time I finished, it had

24 ceased to exist altogether, but it seemed to me that

25 Parliament had come to the conclusion that this power

 

 

70

 

1 ought to be given to the police simply because there was

2 a suspicion that perhaps some solicitors were in fact

3 feeding back information to their paramilitary

4 organisations.

5 Q. So you saw, did you, the power given to the police by

6 Parliament as being a way of addressing unprofessional

7 conduct by solicitors?

8 A. Well, it was Parliament's view that in giving a deferral

9 power to the police, they were nodding in the direction

10 of the police that there are cases where that power

11 should be exercised because there should be no contact

12 with a solicitor for 48 hours.

13 I certainly disliked the deferral power, and one of

14 the reasons for my advocacy of the legal advice unit was

15 that it would make it totally unnecessary. I regarded

16 it as a breach probably of what became Article 6.

17 Q. The deferral power itself?

18 A. The deferral power itself.

19 Q. Yes. So as I understand it from the reports we have in

20 the bundle, you sought to address that arguable breach,

21 did you, with your own idea of the legal advice centres?

22 A. Absolutely.

23 Q. Can I just go back to the question of the first

24 suggestion of unprofessional conduct?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

71

 

1 Q. Do I correctly infer from your comments that the

2 complaint made to you by police officers was that

3 solicitors were passing information back to paramilitary

4 organisations? Was that something said to you?

5 A. Well, one has to remember that these weren't very

6 specific conversations, they were offhand remarks that

7 one might have acquired over the time of talking to

8 police officers. And there was a general atmosphere of

9 that and I don't think anybody denies that this

10 atmosphere of suspicion on both sides was prevalent. I

11 don't think anybody denied that.

12 Q. And you found, you experienced that atmosphere for

13 yourself, did you, on your visits to the holding

14 centres?

15 A. Occasionally.

16 Q. Yes. Now, you have said to us that your contact with

17 defence lawyers themselves was minimal?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. So were you at that stage or at any point thereafter

20 able to form a view for yourself as to whether these

21 complaints were well-founded?

22 A. Absolutely not. I regarded them as founding suspicion,

23 but suspicion is not evidence and I don't think I ever

24 had a piece of evidence which indicated any

25 unprofessional conduct. There was just this

 

 

72

 

1 all-pervading suspicion that was around.

2 Q. And as I understand it, this suspicion, the comments or

3 complaints made to you, was a persistent feature of your

4 time in this role as the Independent Commissioner. Is

5 that right?

6 A. You use the word "persistent". I would say spasmodic.

7 Q. You say in this same paragraph -- you use the word

8 "constant"?

9 A. It was constant in the sense that it certainly didn't go

10 away until at least the first ceasefire in 1994, and I

11 think it became of diminishing occurrence in the

12 late 1990s.

13 Q. So it tailed off from 1994 to the end of your

14 appointment in 2000, did it?

15 A. Yes, it did. And of course, the numbers dropped away

16 quite dramatically in the late 1990s; one of the reasons

17 why the Secretary of State at the time said, "Isn't it

18 about time you packed up this job because we don't need

19 you any more".

20 Q. So far as how to deal with this atmosphere of mutual

21 suspicion, other than your suggestion of the legal

22 advice unit, did you address either with police officers

23 or with defence solicitors other possible ways of

24 addressing the suspicion?

25 A. No.

 

 

73

 

1 Q. No.

2 A. And I would have regarded it as outside my remit.

3 Q. Why is that?

4 A. Because so far as the behaviour of solicitors at centres

5 advising their clients was not within my terms of

6 reference.

7 Q. Now, so far as looking at the role of defence lawyers

8 within the holding centre system is concerned, you have

9 already touched on this question of deferred access.

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. And I think you were saying to me earlier that in your

12 view this was a power which would enable the police,

13 where appropriate, to deal with their suspicions in

14 relation to some solicitors?

15 A. I assumed from the legislation that that is what

16 prompted Parliament to pass that piece of legislation.

17 Q. That is what I wanted to ask you. Was this something

18 that any police officer ever explained to you?

19 A. No.

20 Q. It was never said to you, for example, "Well, yes,

21 I have decided to defer legal access in this case

22 because I don't trust the lawyer"?

23 A. Not that I can remember, that that was ever said to me.

24 And of course, so far as deferral was concerned, it

25 would always take place at the very moment that the

 

 

74

 

1 detainee arrived at the centre. And I think I can

2 fairly say I was never there so early in the morning.

3 Q. So the deferral decision, you think, would be made

4 early on?

5 A. Oh, at the moment the detainee arrived.

6 Q. And the maximum power, as I understand it, was 48 hours.

7 Is that right?

8 A. I think under the original legislation it could be

9 extended for another 48, but I think that fell into

10 disuse pretty quickly. And of course, by the time

11 I finished, the deferral power had fallen into

12 desuetude.

13 Q. That is what I wanted to ask you about next, because you

14 touch on this in your statement.

15 So your recollection then is that, again, perhaps

16 from 1994, the use of the deferral power declined?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Can we look, please, at a paragraph here of the draft,

19 the draft Rapporteur's report at RNI-110-059,

20 paragraph 40 (displayed)?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Do you see the top of the page, paragraph 40?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. There are some statistics in relation to deferral --

25 A. He makes my point, absolutely. But before I came in

 

 

75

 

1 58 per cent of all detentions were deferred. Then he

2 says:

3 "1992, 26 per cent."

4 And you see it falling away immediately after

5 I arrived. I don't think it is a case of cause and

6 effect.

7 Q. No. But is this question of using the power of deferral

8 something that you discussed with officers at the

9 holding centres?

10 A. I think not.

11 Q. In the same --

12 A. Incidentally, I think I can say that with conviction,

13 because -- my recollection is the deferral power had to

14 be exercised by somebody, I think, of the rank of

15 inspector, and the inspectors were not very often

16 actually physically at the holding centres.

17 Q. In paragraph 8 at RNI-802-004 (displayed), you suggest,

18 I think, that it may even have been the level of

19 superintendent?

20 A. I think that is right, yes. I can't remember what the

21 legislation provided, but it was certainly a senior

22 police officer and, therefore, I would be very unlikely

23 to meet them at the holding centres.

24 Q. Reading on in this paragraph, you return to the point

25 about the suspicion --

 

 

76

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. -- held by police officers. Is this a fair summary:

3 that that is something you picked up from a series of

4 comments in a whole range of conversations, rather than

5 in one or two specific discussions about the point?

6 A. Yes, and I think I was conscious as well that this is

7 the period of the growth of judicial review. One

8 oughtn't to be talking about judicial review nowadays,

9 it has almost got out of hand, but there were one or two

10 cases in my early days which went to the High Court,

11 attacking the deferral power. So I was conscious of it

12 in a very sort of forensic setting.

13 Q. Now, in paragraph 9 you give a little more detail about

14 this, because you say that there was a particular firm

15 which was the main object of police objection?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And I presume, therefore, that this was a firm whose

18 name came up in these conversations that you had at the

19 holding centres?

20 A. Yes. Perhaps I ought to explain that Madden & Finucane

21 was certainly the most active firm of solicitors doing

22 this kind of work, and my recollection is that if one

23 was at any time down at the visiting centre, you would

24 find one or more members from that firm actively

25 engaged. And I think -- I mean, again, they were odd

 

 

77

 

1 casual conversations. It was quite clear that that firm

2 of solicitors attracted more attention by the police,

3 who thought that they did indicate suspicion.

4 Q. So they were a particular focus, were they, of the

5 general suspicion you mentioned earlier?

6 A. I think so.

7 Q. Was that a view about that firm that you picked up from

8 a number of different officers during the period of your

9 tenure?

10 A. Yes, and other persons who might have had something to

11 do with the holding centres.

12 I mean, one doesn't live in a vacuum; one circulates

13 in a context of people who may or may not have some link

14 with the holding centres. And of course, I frequently

15 had discussions with my deputy, Dr Norris, and I have no

16 doubt quite a lot of what I have been giving as evidence

17 to you comes second-hand from him.

18 Q. So these may be things that in fact you didn't pick up

19 yourself but were discussed between you and him?

20 A. I would assume so.

21 Q. And he obviously was there much more often and much more

22 frequently than you were?

23 A. Yes. And of course, being a resident in

24 Northern Ireland, he was much more alive to the gossip

25 that goes on in this kind of community.

 

 

78

 

1 Q. Now, so far as the rewards of the role, if I can put it

2 that way, are concerned, you say in paragraph 14 at

3 RNI-802-007 (displayed) -- it is the last sentence --

4 that:

5 "One of the most interests things about it was

6 [your] ability to influence the police in the exercise

7 of their discretion."

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Can you think of a particular example where you were

10 able to do that?

11 A. I think I gave one earlier of a mentally disordered

12 detainee who I thought was clearly mentally disordered,

13 and I suggested to the officer there ought to be

14 a social worker present at the interrogation, and that

15 was done without demur.

16 Q. So the officer in that case or the officers in that case

17 accepted your advice and acted upon it?

18 A. Absolutely.

19 Q. You give another example in paragraph 9 at RNI-802-004

20 (displayed). Do you see in the middle of the paragraph

21 you say you were:

22 "... present on one occasion when I advised an

23 officer that I didn't think the deferral power should be

24 exercised."

25 And the officer took your advice?

 

 

79

 

1 A. I am sorry, I don't remember that. I did 15 months ago

2 when I made the statement. I can't remember it now.

3 Q. But in general, therefore, when you offered suggestions

4 and advice as to the exercise of discretion, you found

5 the officers receptive, did you?

6 A. I did.

7 Q. Yes. Thank you.

8 A. Can I say that I found that increasingly so, as I think

9 I indicated. There was a good deal of suspicion about

10 me when I first arrived at the holding centres, but I

11 think that dissipated within a year or two of my coming

12 there.

13 Q. You have told us about the rewards, if I can put it that

14 way, of the role and the fact that the officers were

15 receptive to your advice. It is right, isn't it, to say

16 that in your very first report you suggested that the

17 holding centres should be closed?

18 A. I think specifically Castlereagh. I am not sure -- did

19 I say all three?

20 Q. Can we look at the -- I am sure you are right --

21 A. I certainly said it in relation to Castlereagh.

22 Q. Can we look at RNI-830-003 (displayed).

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. I am not sure that is the right reference, actually.

25 That is the covering letter, I think, to the Secretary

 

 

80

 

1 of State, isn't it?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. But you deal at RNI-802-004 (displayed) with this point.

4 Do you see at the very top of the page?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. As I understood it, what you were suggesting there was

7 indeed that the three should be shut down and replaced

8 by a single centre?

9 A. Yes. Yes, I think I was much more concerned with

10 Castlereagh, because I think the physical conditions at

11 Castlereagh were, I think, intolerable. I think

12 certainly a breach of the Convention.

13 Q. What do you mean by that? Can you give us some detail?

14 A. Oh, I think the size of the cells, the lack of any

15 exercise yard, the general atmosphere of the place. It

16 was very, very oppressive, I think, to anybody who was

17 at all sensitive to being physically contained. Whereas

18 at Gough Barracks and at Strand Road, Derry, I think one

19 could say certainly by comparison they were tolerable.

20 So they were hardly used. The last years that I was

21 there, I don't think anyone was taken to Strand Road, at

22 least very rarely. Gough was used decreasingly.

23 Q. As I understand it then, there are two points in play,

24 and were from your first report. The first is your

25 particular objections to and concerns about Castlereagh?

 

 

81

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. And then a broader point, which is that the three should

3 be effectively merged into one?

4 A. Yes. And of course, I was thinking very much of

5 combining it with a PACE provision as well, so that you

6 could move detainees from a terrorist situation into an

7 ordinary police investigation system.

8 Q. So the differences between the two types of

9 investigation would be removed, effectively?

10 A. Well, there could be a transfer from one to the other,

11 which would be very helpful to police officers in

12 conducting their investigations.

13 Q. Can I just ask you about other comments you make in this

14 same letter, because this is the letter which you quote

15 to help you in paragraph 10 of your statement at

16 RNI-802-005 (displayed).

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And you give us a reasonably lengthy passage from it

19 there. Some way down RNI-802-005 -- it is about ten

20 lines up from the bottom of the page -- there is

21 a sentence beginning:

22 "The persistent call ..."

23 A. Yes, I have got it.

24 Q. Can you help us. What were you referring to there?

25 A. Oh, I think this is relating to the suspicions about

 

 

82

 

1 lawyers, and equally the lawyers' suspicion about police

2 officers. And -- I mean, I came across this from time

3 to time. Having regard to my remit, of course it wasn't

4 any of my business but I said it needed to be resolved.

5 Q. So allegations and counter-allegations means allegations

6 by the police on the one hand and counter-allegations by

7 the lawyers?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. So the existence of such counter-allegations was

10 something you were aware of at this stage?

11 A. Exactly.

12 Q. But didn't regard it as part of your remit to do

13 anything about?

14 A. I certainly regarded it as outside my remit.

15 Q. Indeed, but you draw it to the attention of the

16 Secretary of State?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And you did so with a couple of interesting caveats. If

19 I can just draw those to your attention:

20 "1. The lawyers are unwilling to give any

21 particulars.

22 "2. The police are not desirous [as you put it] of

23 pursuing their claims of unprofessional conduct."

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. So it suggests -- is this right? -- that both sides were

 

 

83

 

1 anxious not to get into a confrontation?

2 A. Absolutely.

3 Q. For their own differing reasons?

4 A. Absolutely. The suspicions pervaded their relationship,

5 but neither of them was prepared to take any step

6 towards trying to resolve it.

7 Q. And you were suggesting, as I understand it, that this

8 persistent call should be answered?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. How?

11 A. By the Secretary of State setting up an independent

12 person to investigate.

13 Q. But as far as your role was concerned, by drawing his

14 attention to the allegation and the counter-allegations

15 you thought that you had done all you properly could?

16 A. I probably went further than I ought to have done.

17 Q. Can I then turn to the suggestion you posed for the

18 establishment of a legal advice unit?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Because it is something you deal with in this section of

21 your statement, and you have helpfully set out for us

22 why it was that you put it forward.

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. As I understand it, the scheme you proposed -- and I

25 think you proposed it in your very first report, didn't

 

 

84

 

1 you?

2 A. Certainly very early on.

3 Q. Very early on, thank you. The scheme was that there

4 would be effectively a permanent duty solicitor --

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. -- at each holding centre. Is that right?

7 A. I think I was saying -- I mean, the problem was it

8 was -- my concentration was all on Castlereagh and I

9 think if the scheme had ever gone ahead, I think one

10 would have said that it would have to apply to the other

11 two holding centres as well.

12 Could I say that I don't claim any novelty in this.

13 I got this from Lord Scarman in the Brixton Inquiry,

14 where the origins of a duty solicitor scheme first

15 arose, and I think I picked it up from there.

16 Q. But it looks, from this very same letter we were

17 considering just a moment ago, as though you saw the

18 business of the advice unit as itself being a way of

19 dealing with the allegations and the

20 counter-allegations?

21 A. Well, I thought that if the scheme was acceptable, it at

22 a stroke dealt with that problem, because you would not

23 get the solicitors coming who would create any suspicion

24 in the minds of the police officers. So I thought at

25 a stroke this is what would happen.

 

 

85

 

1 I mean, that was an ulterior motive, if you like.

2 Q. You say it in terms in, if we go back to RNI-830-005

3 (displayed), in the last sentence of the long paragraph

4 at the top of the page. You say, do you see:

5 "Whatever the rights and wrongs of the past

6 conflict, and I may say they linger on in an attenuated

7 form, at least my proposal ..."

8 That is the unit proposal:

9 "... will put an end to the foundation for any

10 future allegations."

11 A. Yes, and put an end to the deferral power.

12 Q. Now, in fact that led to what you describe in your

13 statement, I think, as a long-running battle?

14 A. Yes, I think that is it.

15 Q. And as I understand it, the advice unit proposal, which

16 was something you returned to regularly during your

17 reports --

18 A. Yes, I think people got rather sick and tired of hearing

19 that from me.

20 Q. It met with favourable reaction from at least many?

21 A. Oh, indeed.

22 Q. But not, in particular, from the Law Society?

23 A. Yes. And indeed, my recollection -- I think I have said

24 it, that Sir Patrick Mayhew said, "If the Law Society

25 accept the scheme, then I think this is a very sensible

 

 

86

 

1 way of proceeding".

2 Q. What can you remember about the Law Society's attitude

3 to the unit?

4 A. Obdurate. And I think, if I could say, that my

5 complaint against them is not a -- one of great moral

6 significance, but they were behaving much like a trade

7 union than a professional organisation.

8 Q. So they did not accept the proposal. What were their

9 reasons? Do you remember?

10 A. I am not sure that they articulated them. They just

11 simply said this was against the interests of their

12 members who were doing this work, and they didn't see

13 any reason at all why that should be disturbed.

14 Q. So that the proposal you had come up with would have

15 meant that work would go to the duty solicitor rather

16 than the preferred choice of the client. Was that their

17 concern?

18 A. Oh, yes, absolutely.

19 Q. And --

20 A. And they were saying -- the Americans were saying it

21 much more forcefully and much more intelligently that of

22 course this was interfering with the precept of you

23 being able to have the counsel of your choice.

24 Q. Yes, it was interfering with the right to choose your

25 own counsel?

 

 

87

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. And well, whatever the rights and wrongs of that debate,

3 as I understand it, in the end the scheme was not

4 adopted. Is that right?

5 A. Oh, I think that is putting it too extremely. I think,

6 if I could refer you to -- let me see. I am just trying

7 to find -- oh, it is really RNI-464-303, the paragraph

8 at the bottom (displayed). And remembering this is my

9 third annual report of 1995, so this is fairly early --

10 well, after I had been there about three years -- it is

11 the paragraph:

12 "The dialogue between us and the Law Society over

13 the past two years is becoming, if it has not already

14 become, otiose. The very substantial reduction in the

15 numbers passing through holding centres intermittently

16 would render impracticable the setting up even a rota

17 system of solicitors to attend on call at the holding

18 centres. Nevertheless, the case for and against the

19 legal advice unit in such circumstances is of

20 considerable academic interest and of possible future

21 application."

22 I think the Secretary of State was endorsing that.

23 Q. In the same section of your statement, you make

24 a comment at the end of this same paragraph, 11 -- and

25 we are now at RNI-802-006 (displayed) -- in relation to

 

 

88

 

1 your proposal --

2 A. Hang on, I am just not quite there with you yet.

3 Q. I'm sorry.

4 A. Yes, I have got it.

5 Q. In the last sentence of paragraph 11, you point out that

6 you weren't motivated, you say, by any concern regarding

7 the quality of the solicitors providing legal advice?

8 A. That's right.

9 Q. And so the motivation for the unit was not because of

10 any views you had formed about the quality of the legal

11 advice they were getting from their own solicitors?

12 A. And it would have been improper of me to have done so.

13 Q. Indeed. But the fact that these suspicions or concerns

14 were being made known to you appears, doesn't it, from

15 the report you have just taken us to, the third annual

16 report -- and I am now looking at RNI-464-307

17 (displayed) at the bottom of the page under the heading

18 "Visits by Legal Advisers".

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Because there you deal with the matter head-on, not

21 about competence but about propriety?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And you say that you haven't so far alluded to that

24 question.

25 A. Yes.

 

 

89

 

1 Q. But then you go on to explain how complaints have been

2 made from time to time informally to you --

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. -- about the behaviour of a few solicitors who have been

5 coming regularly to confer?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. These are the conversations that you told us about

8 earlier?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Then you set out the other side:

11 "Likewise, there has been a number of allegations of

12 harassment of lawyers by police officers which have

13 never been pursued despite the RUC asking for

14 clarification and details."

15 Just pausing there, that is a slightly different

16 point to the one you made in your statement. Here, I

17 think you are saying that the allegations made by

18 lawyers in this case have not been pursued by the

19 lawyers?

20 A. That's right, to the Law Society.

21 Q. So when you said "pursued", you meant to the

22 Law Society. Is that right?

23 A. Oh, yes, to their body.

24 Q. You weren't referring there to the failure to pursue

25 those matters by way of complaint against the police

 

 

90

 

1 under the complaints system?

2 A. Of that too.

3 Q. So, in short, not being pursued at all?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. Thank you.

6 A. This was what you were describing as the stand-off.

7 Q. And so you have well-publicised rumblings on the one

8 hand and officially unpursued grievances on the other?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Turning over the page, however, to RNI-464-308

11 (displayed), you go on to deal with the question of the

12 Law Society again in the first full paragraph under the

13 quotation. Do you see?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. So clearly it was your view in 1995 that the

16 professional body ought to have taken hold of this

17 matter and investigated the truth or otherwise of the

18 allegations made?

19 A. I would have thought so.

20 Q. Yes. And then you set out a very long quotation from

21 Lord Mountbatten?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Which looks as though it would have been published in

24 about 1965.

25 A. I think 1966 actually. George Blake went over the wall

 

 

91

 

1 in 1966.

2 Q. Thank you very much. What I wanted to show you is the

3 large quotation which follows. Can we have that on the

4 screen please, RNI-463-408 (displayed), beginning "I

5 think ..." If we can enlarge the quotation, please.

6 Now, the italics in the middle of that, were they

7 yours?

8 A. No.

9 Q. They were Lord Mountbatten's?

10 A. If they were mine, I would have indicated by putting my

11 italics in brackets. No, they are Lord Mountbatten's.

12 Q. But the suggestion set out there in italics is in

13 a sense exactly the grumbling that was being passed on

14 to you?

15 A. Precisely. All I was seeking to draw people's attention

16 to was the fact that in this kind of situation the

17 suspicions are going to arise on both sides and this has

18 been acknowledged by no less than an authority than

19 Lord Mountbatten.

20 Q. Yes. And then you continue at the bottom of the page by

21 pointing out, RNI-464-308 (displayed), that the

22 conditions were different, unsubstantiated complaints

23 from members of the Prison Service. But turning the

24 page to RNI-464-309 (displayed), you point out that

25 another way of dealing with it would be a permanent

 

 

92

 

1 independent legal service on site?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. That, I think I am right in saying and summarising, is

4 what leads you back to your original proposal of the

5 advice unit?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Thank you. Sir, would that be a convenient moment for

8 a short break?

9 THE CHAIRMAN: Certainly. Ten minutes?

10 MR PHILLIPS: Thank you very much.

11 (3.07 pm)

12 (Short break)

13 (3.20 pm)

14 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mr Phillips.

15 MR PHILLIPS: Sir Louis, can we stick with the passage of

16 your report that we were looking at and just follow it

17 to its conclusion in this chapter? If you look at

18 RNI-464-309 (displayed) in the middle of the page you

19 refer there to a working party of the England and Wales

20 Law Society.

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. It looks as though it was led by Mr Bindman?

23 A. Sir Geoffrey Bindman.

24 Q. I am sorry. As he now is, exactly.

25 A. As he then wasn't.

 

 

93

 

1 Q. As he then wasn't, indeed. And you then have

2 a substantial quotation from them at the bottom of the

3 page and that takes you on at RNI-464-310 (displayed) to

4 draw what can only be described as a contrast between --

5 A. Well, can I just draw the Panel's attention to the last

6 words on page RNI-464-310 (displayed):

7 "At our meeting ..."

8 This is Sir Geoffrey Bindman saying:

9 "At our meeting, a Law Society member described the

10 proposal as an insult to solicitors and unacceptable."

11 Q. That was a comment made --

12 A. By Sir Geoffrey's working party. Yes, he was picking up

13 what one member of the Law Society in Northern Ireland

14 had made and this was, I think, a comment which no doubt

15 affected some of the judgment of the members of the

16 Law Society.

17 Q. And I think it's that remark you must be referring to

18 late on RNI-464-310?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Do you see:

21 "They quoted gratuitously the offensive remark"?

22 A. Yes, absolutely.

23 Q. You then go on further to deal with the Bindman Report,

24 if I can put it that way?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

94

 

1 Q. And at the bottom of the page you record an assurance

2 given by him.

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Acquitting you of giving intentional offence to

5 solicitors in Northern Ireland or of casting aspersions

6 on their integrity?

7 A. Yes. And of course that stands in contrast to what the

8 British Human Rights Watch was saying about my attitude

9 towards the legal advice unit. They were inferring that

10 I was casting aspersions.

11 Q. They were suggesting -- we will look at the text in

12 a minute -- that you regarded some solicitors in

13 Northern Ireland as being corrupt?

14 A. Well, we will look at it in a moment. It has a slightly

15 more convoluted origin than that.

16 Q. Indeed. But the end of this, as I understand it, moving

17 over to RNI-464-311 (displayed), is that you maintained

18 your own view and still favoured the suggestion of a

19 permanent legal advice centre on the site of the holding

20 centres?

21 A. Of course, remember that this comes in the 1995 third

22 report, which they say of course we are now beyond the

23 stage of discussing a legal advice unit. It is a matter

24 of history.

25 All I was trying to say at the end of this report is

 

 

95

 

1 that the idea of a legal advice unit sited at a police

2 station or a holding centre, whatever it is, seems to me

3 to be one of the ways forward in dealing with this kind

4 of situation of people detained without trial.

5 Q. Thank you. Can I just take you back to a point you made

6 a little earlier about the use of the deferral power?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Because you draw a connection for us based on your view

9 at the time, as I understood it, between police

10 officers' decision to use that power and their concerns

11 or suspicions about solicitors in particular cases?

12 A. Hm-mm.

13 Q. We then looked, didn't we, at the statistics which

14 showed a decrease in the number of deferrals?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. A marked decrease in fact, certainly into the latter

17 part of the 1990s?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Now, was there any connection in the sense that did that

20 indicate a change in attitude on the part of police

21 officers to the behaviour of solicitors?

22 A. I don't think I can answer that question.

23 Q. No.

24 A. Of course, the fall-off coincided with (a) the ceasefire

25 in 1994, it coincided with the drop in the number of

 

 

96

 

1 detainees being brought to the holding centres and it

2 coincided with a considerable amount of opposition to

3 the deferral power as being a breach of human rights.

4 That is to say, removing access to any legal advice in

5 the first 48 hours was probably a breach of what we

6 today would call Article 6.

7 Q. So you think those factors may have had a role to play

8 in the decrease in numbers of cases that we saw earlier?

9 A. Logically, I think that's right. Whether those were the

10 factors, I don't think I can answer it.

11 Q. Was there any change during your period of office from

12 1992 to 2000 in the suspicions or grumblings, the sense

13 that officers were giving you of their concerns about

14 some solicitors?

15 A. Oh, yes. I think by about 1996/1997 I think they were

16 dropping away, but I think that was all part of the

17 general picture of the holding centres becoming less

18 important as part of the anti-terrorist activity.

19 Q. But is it possible then that that also had a part to

20 play in the reduction of the number of deferral cases?

21 A. I would guess so.

22 Q. Thank you. Now, just to take you back also to a comment

23 or series of comments you made, and in your statement

24 you dealt with this, with a particular firm,

25 Madden & Finucane. And I think you said that they were

 

 

97

 

1 present or there was a representative present just about

2 every time you went to a holding centre?

3 A. That is my suspicion. They were certainly the most

4 active firm of solicitors.

5 Q. Do you think it was that prominence of itself which led

6 to a greater concentration or volume of grumblings, as

7 you put it, about that firm?

8 A. I don't know how you measure these things but, yes,

9 I suppose so.

10 Q. Was this something you ever took up with

11 a representative of Madden & Finucane yourself?

12 A. No.

13 Q. No. And can I take it that you did not do so for the

14 same reason you gave earlier: that this would have been

15 outside your remit?

16 A. Absolutely.

17 Q. Thank you. Now, in paragraph 13 of your statement --

18 and this is at RNI-802-006 (displayed) -- you talk again

19 about the NGOs, and I don't want to go over that again.

20 You mention in the penultimate sentence what may be

21 a coincidence between the time of your appointment and

22 the absence of complaints of ill-treatment, and again

23 you have touched on that in your evidence already. But

24 you make this comment in the final sentence, and that

25 is the sentence I would like to ask you about. You say:

 

 

98

 

1 "In my view, if potential complainants know that

2 they will be unable to substantiate their claims,

3 complaints dry up."

4 Can I ask you: what did you have in mind when you

5 made that comment?

6 A. I am not sure. I think I was drawing a logical

7 conclusion that if there is no response -- if there is

8 no accommodation made to the complaints that they are

9 expressing, then they may give up; in other words, the

10 complaints dry up.

11 Q. So I have understood that, do you mean if complaints are

12 simply not --

13 A. Dealt with.

14 Q. -- dealt which, by which you mean investigated. Is that

15 right?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Then people cease to make them?

18 A. That is the logical conclusion that I was drawing.

19 Now that you point it out to me, I am not sure that

20 it is entirely a fair comment, but it certainly was the

21 view that I had. And I think what led me to say that

22 was that the experience I was having with regard to

23 complaints of ill-treatment, that once I came into post

24 they simply ceased altogether, or pretty well

25 altogether, led me to take the view that if you can have

 

 

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1 proper safeguards in, the complaints will dry up.

2 Q. So I am clear about this, is that because your

3 appointment meant that false complaints were not

4 advanced or that the circumstances giving rise to true

5 complaints would not occur?

6 A. I think I would lend towards the former; that is to say

7 that the complaints which were being made -- and I am

8 not pointing the finger at anybody, but of course they

9 tend to go through a kind of sort of conduit pipe. No

10 doubt a detainee, for some reason or another, will

11 communicate to his solicitor of some complaint of the

12 way he has been treated. That gets passed on to the

13 various organisations, particularly pressure groups, who

14 are looking perhaps for material to substantiate the

15 complaints, and I think along the road these complaints

16 either get aired or they don't get aired, and they don't

17 get aired for all sorts of reasons which are to do with

18 the nature of the organisations.

19 Q. But that process that you have just described, is that

20 a process that you were personally aware of taking place

21 in any particular case?

22 A. I can't remember it ever taking place in relation to

23 a specific instance, but I was -- I think I was very

24 affected by the fact that once I was in post, what was

25 coming across the Atlantic from the Americans almost

 

 

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1 dried up completely.

2 Q. We do know there was an example at least of such

3 a complaint being drawn to your attention in 1997. That

4 is the Lynch matter that you deal with in your

5 statement?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Was that in your experience unique by that stage?

8 A. Well, it was out of character. It was not commonplace

9 by then.

10 Q. Can I ask you this: Your reference here --

11 A. I think Lynch was very much looking back at previous

12 instances of complaints of ill-treatment, and I think he

13 was doing a bit of telescoping, which we all do from

14 time to time.

15 Q. But looking back at this sentence about potential

16 complainants, was your recommendation for audio and

17 video recording made with this sort of concern in mind?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. So as we discussed earlier, the existence of an

20 objectively verifiable record of the interview would

21 assist, would it --

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. -- to prevent unsubstantiated complaints being made?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. And presumably also to prevent the conduct which led to

 

 

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1 truthful complaints in the first place?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Thank you. Now, in paragraph 14 of your statement on

4 the next page, at RNI-802-007 (displayed), you say in

5 the penultimate sentence, just before the sentence we

6 looked at a little earlier, that you were saddened by

7 the much deep-rooted prejudice?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. I wanted to ask you: how did you encounter that

10 prejudice in the course of your work?

11 A. Well, I am an outsider, but I think anybody coming to

12 Northern Ireland at that time and certainly before could

13 hardly be unaware of the deep-rooted hostility between

14 the communities. It pervaded every aspect of social

15 contact.

16 Q. How did it manifest itself in the holding centres?

17 A. Most of the officers, I think, were Protestants and some

18 of the detainees were of the same persuasion, but quite

19 a lot of them, of course, particularly from the

20 Republican side, were Catholics.

21 If I am allowed to tell a story, when I first came,

22 a police officer took me on one side and said, "Please

23 would you tell us, are you a Jewish Protestant or

24 a Jewish Catholic?" And I think that was an indication

25 of the divide.

 

 

102

 

1 Q. Now, then you deal in your statement with

2 Rosemary Nelson herself?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. You don't think you ever spoke to her?

5 A. I am not aware of having done so.

6 Q. No. But you raise the possibility at least that you may

7 have seen her on one of your visits to a holding centre?

8 A. I can't discount it.

9 Q. No. And you say in that context that you knew she was

10 a single practitioner and you thought that this, by

11 which I understand you to mean her decision effectively

12 to operate as a single practitioner, was unwise. Can

13 you help us with that?

14 A. Well, I just think that if you are engaged in the kind

15 of legal work which she was involved in in civil

16 liberties, there are constantly difficulties. And

17 particularly, of course, if you are dealing with

18 authorities who may or may not be breaching human

19 rights -- I think it is absolutely essential that you

20 have somebody by your side to whom you can turn and

21 discuss about your problems. And I am utterly opposed

22 to single -- single firm solicitors. I think it is

23 a recipe for trouble.

24 Q. Was there anything that you heard or knew about her

25 practice that led you to be particularly concerned?

 

 

103

 

1 A. No.

2 Q. No.

3 A. Not that I know of. I mean, I just was conscious that

4 somebody operating, as she did, really needed somebody

5 to hold her hand.

6 Q. And you say in the penultimate sentence of this

7 paragraph, 15:

8 "I always hoped that this message ..."

9 As I understand it, the message about the need to

10 have somebody else, as it were, working alongside you:

11 "... would get back to her."

12 A. Yes, indeed. And of course, when I wrote this I had in

13 mind Dr Shipman, another instance of another professional

14 acting as a sole practitioner. Always a disaster.

15 Q. But you certainly yourself didn't seek to get the

16 message passed back?

17 A. I think I rather exceeded my remit by even suggesting

18 it, but there you are. One has bees in one's bonnet and

19 they buzz.

20 Q. Where you say slightly earlier in this same paragraph:

21 "I recall I told as many people as I could that

22 I thought it was unwise for a solicitor to operate in

23 a single person firm."

24 Is that something you told as many people as you

25 could in Northern Ireland?

 

 

104

 

1 A. Oh, yes. I don't think I discussed this back on the

2 mainland.

3 Q. Was that discussion prompted by reference to her

4 particular case?

5 A. I think it was.

6 Q. But you are not sure now?

7 A. I am not sure.

8 Q. No.

9 A. I was just conscious -- I mean, one gets one's

10 information from all sorts of places, and I suppose I

11 was reading newspaper accounts of -- and she was

12 a prominent public figure and one was conscious of the

13 problems that she faced. And my view simply was that

14 a lot of them could be dealt with if only she had

15 somebody to whom she could turn, a partner in the firm.

16 Q. With whom did these discussions take place?

17 A. I can't remember.

18 Q. No. Would it be people you met in the course of your

19 work at the holding centres?

20 A. Probably.

21 Q. Police officers?

22 A. Probably.

23 Q. Other lawyers?

24 A. Possibly, yes. I think I was fairly free in my comment.

25 Q. Is it a matter you raised, for example, with the NIO?

 

 

105

 

1 A. No, I don't think so.

2 Q. Is there any particular reason why not?

3 A. Well, because I don't think that it would be

4 appropriate. I mean, thinking about it now, I think if

5 I had really been sensible about it, I would have gone

6 to the Law Society and said, "Look, I think this is not

7 a good practice which you should allow your members to

8 engage in", but then my relations with the Law Society

9 were not that potentially fruitful.

10 Q. In the next paragraph, you say that although you have

11 little recollection of her and don't recall ever having

12 met her, you were aware of the police attitude

13 towards her?

14 A. Oh, yes.

15 Q. What was that?

16 A. Part of my view about her was, I think, probably gained

17 from police officers who were aware of the big firms who

18 were able to operate collegiately, whereas she was not.

19 Q. But you say in particular that you had the impression

20 there was greater hostility towards her than there may

21 have been towards other defence solicitors. Was that

22 based on conversations you had with police officers?

23 A. I think so.

24 Q. At the holding centres?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

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1 Q. Can you remember any particular examples for us?

2 A. No.

3 Q. No. Can you remember at least roughly when those

4 discussions or conversations may have taken place?

5 A. No, I can't remember.

6 Q. No. Now, earlier we discussed the example of

7 Madden & Finucane and you suggested at that stage that

8 they were singled out for particular opposition or

9 comment. Does what you say in this paragraph, 16, put

10 her, as it were, above that firm in the hierarchy?

11 A. I am not sure that I had a hierarchy.

12 Q. No.

13 A. They were certainly a very prominent firm of solicitors

14 who were very active at the holing centres, and it was

15 quite a large firm and, of course, very much tied up

16 with the killing of Pat Finucane in, what -- somewhere

17 about 1989?

18 Q. Yes. So at some point at any rate during your tenure

19 you were aware, were you, that there was this particular

20 hostility towards her?

21 A. Yes, I think I was.

22 Q. And that there were, as you put it -- she was the target

23 of police complaints?

24 A. I am not sure that I am really qualified to make that

25 statement. I was conscious that she was singled out, I

 

 

107

 

1 think, more frequently for police complaints, but I

2 think that was because she was operating as a single

3 practitioner.

4 Q. But can you remember the substance of these complaints?

5 A. No. Absolutely not.

6 Q. Can you remember anything about the particulars, if I

7 can put it that way, of what they said to you about her?

8 A. I am afraid not.

9 Q. So we are left, are we, then, with a general impression

10 of hostility?

11 A. I am afraid it is very general.

12 Q. And that she was singled out compared to other

13 solicitors for that sort of hostility. Is that fair?

14 A. It is not unfair.

15 Q. Thank you. Now, I hope this is fair. You suggest or

16 perhaps speculate that one of the reasons may have been

17 that she was a woman working at the holding centres in

18 what you have described as a male enclave?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And as I understand it, in your eight years of tenure,

21 perhaps nearly eight years at any rate, you don't recall

22 meeting a female solicitor at the holding centres?

23 A. I think that is right. Yes, I think that is right.

24 I mean, certainly she was conspicuous in the sense that

25 she was a representative of her sex.

 

 

108

 

1 Q. So may it have been, therefore, that she registered with

2 you in particular and that the comments, whatever they

3 were, made about her had an impact because she was

4 herself a woman?

5 A. I think that is right. And I think that -- and this

6 operates in other societies as well -- that gender is

7 really a very important feature particularly in the

8 functioning of social institutions. Perhaps that is

9 disappearing, but certainly in the 1990s in the holding

10 centres of Northern Ireland, I was aware of that.

11 Q. You tell us in the next paragraph, 17, about the

12 Edmund Lynch letter, and we will look at that in

13 a moment, if we may. But in order to perhaps help you

14 with this question of the chronology, at the time you

15 received that letter, which we know is March 1997 --

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. -- paragraph 17 at RNI-802-008 (displayed) --

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. -- were you already aware of Rosemary Nelson?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. So that when the letter came in, the name was produced,

22 it wasn't the first time you had seen the name?

23 A. Absolutely not.

24 Q. Does that help you with any sense of when you first

25 heard about her and, indeed, first had conversations

 

 

109

 

1 with police officers about her? Do you think it may

2 have been before that letter, for example?

3 A. Yes, I think so.

4 Q. Can we look, please, at the letter at RNI-105-102

5 (displayed).

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. So this is sent to you at your office in Belfast under

8 the heading "Miscellaneous Inquiry", date

9 13th March 1997, and it refers there to Rosemary Nelson

10 and suggests that she has been subject to death threats?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. When you received this, can I take it that you had never

13 heard that such death threats had been issued to her

14 before?

15 A. I think not.

16 Q. No. And it describes how they had reached her, namely

17 through clients in the course of interrogation.

18 Can I just ask you this question: you will see the

19 mechanics of this as suggested here by Mr Lynch, namely

20 that during an interview with clients, death threats are

21 communicated to the client in relation to the solicitor.

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Now, was that something, that sort of threat, that you

24 had encountered at any stage before this in the course

25 of your work?

 

 

110

 

1 A. No.

2 Q. No. So just to summarise then: although you think you

3 would have known of Rosemary Nelson by this stage, this

4 letter, if the allegations were true, of course, was

5 raising a wholly new type of allegation?

6 A. Well, of course, the letter from Edmund Lynch to me

7 about death threats on Rosemary Nelson really almost

8 passed across my table. I mean, immediately I saw it,

9 this was outside my remit. And I think there is

10 a letter in which I simply pass this on to the Attorney

11 General's office.

12 Q. Yes.

13 A. So I think my recollection is that this didn't make any

14 great impact on me, because I didn't see it as part of

15 my business. And I am not sure that I saw the

16 significance which I think you are placing on it, that

17 this is perhaps the first intimation of death threats.

18 I am not sure that that had any impact on me.

19 Q. No. Can I ask you this: had you received indication

20 before, not in relation to Rosemary Nelson but in

21 relation to any solicitor, had people brought their

22 complaints to you before and asked you to act upon them?

23 A. No.

24 Q. No?

25 A. They knew my terms of reference.

 

 

111

 

1 Q. Indeed. So as far as your role in dealing with this

2 letter was concerned then, as you understood it your

3 proper function was to make sure that it reached the

4 right people?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. And I assume that that means the Complaints and

7 Discipline branch of the RUC?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Under the then existing complaints structure?

10 A. I think Edmund Lynch was asking me to pass it on to the

11 Attorney General.

12 Q. He was?

13 A. Yes:

14 "Would you kindly turn this information over to the

15 Attorney General's office."

16 And I simply complied.

17 Q. If we look at RNI-108-109 (displayed). I think dated

18 14th, the next day, is a letter from your secretary --

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. -- to the Law Officers?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. And it puts the faxed letter you see referred to in the

23 second line of the second paragraph --

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. -- in the context of your latest report?

 

 

112

 

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. You refer there to the very serious allegations in the

3 letter?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And you are then quoted by your secretary, as it were:

6 "Sir Louis has asked me to alert you accordingly and

7 to draw your attention to his own comments (see pages 27

8 to 30 of his ..."

9 Which I presume is your latest report:

10 "... concerning --

11 A. I assume so.

12 Q. "... concerning this subject"?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. I am not sure we have a copy of that report but can you

15 remember "the subject"? Is that the subject of

16 allegations made against the police?

17 A. I would not -- no, I think not. I don't know what it

18 refers to but I think by 1997 I think I was switched off

19 from complaints. I had had enough over the legal advice

20 unit with the Law Society, and I think I had moved on to

21 audio/video recording. And my recollection is 1997, if

22 I was writing a report then, I don't think I was

23 alluding to the suspicions on both sides of the divide

24 between the RUC and solicitors.

25 Q. Might you have been alluding to the perceived

 

 

113

 

1 difficulties with the then existing complaints system?

2 A. Well, the answer is without looking at my report, I

3 don't think I can answer it.

4 Q. Thank you.

5 A. But I would be pretty certain it has got nothing to do

6 with the complaints of suspicious behaviour.

7 Q. No. Now, you say in paragraph 18 that you don't recall

8 any other threats being mentioned to you by

9 Edmund Lynch?

10 A. That's right.

11 Q. Do you mean in relation to this particular lawyer,

12 Rosemary Nelson, or just generally?

13 A. Just generally. My recollection is this isn't the first

14 communication that Edmund Lynch had with me. I was

15 aware of his existence fairly early on and I don't

16 remember him ever alluding to death threats against any

17 solicitor at any time. I think this is the first.

18 Q. But so far as you are concerned then, your involvement

19 in this ended when you passed the matter on to the

20 appropriate authorities?

21 A. Absolutely.

22 Q. And you didn't think it appropriate within your remit to

23 take any other form of action?

24 A. No.

25 Q. And it is at this point, isn't it, in your statement

 

 

114

 

1 that you say that your remit specifically excluded you

2 from functioning as a complaints agency?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Thank you. And it looks as though in paragraph 19 you

5 regarded this as another attempt by Mr Lynch to get you

6 to investigate allegations of this kind, but you pointed

7 out to him -- I am trying to summarise now -- that you

8 couldn't do this under your present remit?

9 A. That's right.

10 Q. And it would require some new terms of reference,

11 effectively?

12 A. Absolutely.

13 Q. For you to be --

14 A. It would be a totally separate inquiry.

15 Q. Indeed.

16 A. And somehow I think he had some faith in me. I think he

17 was out of line with some of his colleagues in that

18 respect.

19 Q. Did you at any stage thereafter have any involvement

20 with what became the LAJI, the Lawyers Alliance for

21 Justice in Ireland, complaint?

22 A. I think no.

23 Q. At one stage you were, I think, written to by

24 Commander Mulvihill and we have that at RNI-223-055

25 (displayed). Can we just have a quick look at that,

 

 

115

 

1 please.

2 A. Yes, I have absolutely no recollection of that letter at

3 all. I saw it, I think, for the first time yesterday.

4 I just don't know what that is about.

5 Q. This, as you see from the ciphered name, concerns

6 a particular client. We have given him the cipher C208,

7 and it looks from the last paragraph as though the

8 Commander is saying because you have responsibility in

9 relation to Castlereagh where the events had allegedly

10 occurred, at some point he would appreciate an

11 opportunity to discuss, as he puts it "related matters

12 with you". But as I understand it, you have no

13 recollection of receiving this letter?

14 A. I have no recollection of receiving the letter and I

15 don't think I ever met Mr Mulvihill.

16 Q. No. Thank you.

17 During the time of your appointment, there was

18 a change of Chief Constable and Sir Ronnie Flanagan took

19 over in that role?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. What was your working relationship with him like?

22 A. Excellent. I mean, I ought to say that I think I met

23 him officially on one or two occasions from -- I think

24 he was appointed late 1996, and in the four years that

25 I remained as the Independent Commissioner, I think

 

 

116

 

1 I must have visited him at least twice formally at

2 Knock, which was the headquarters of what was then

3 the RUC.

4 Q. Was it possible for you to ascertain from your

5 conversations, your meetings with him, what his view of

6 your post was?

7 A. Yes, totally approving.

8 Q. Yes. Did you ever discuss with him the topic that we

9 have been discussing this afternoon, namely the

10 grumblings or suspicions on both sides between police

11 officers on the one hand and defence lawyers on the

12 other?

13 A. I think not, and I think my reason for being confident

14 about that now is the date. I certainly would not have

15 had any meeting with him before his appointment in 1996.

16 Now, by that time I had moved on, if that is the

17 right expression, from advocacy of the legal advice

18 unit. I had moved on to audio/video recording, and so

19 far as the complaints being made by solicitors of RUC

20 officers and RUC officers of solicitors, I think that

21 was a matter of history and I don't think we would have

22 ever been discussing that at the end of 1996.

23 Q. Thank you.

24 A. I was certainly talking to him about audio and video

25 recording and I remember one meeting I had with him when

 

 

117

 

1 I wanted to adduce some research actually to see how

2 audio and video recordings were conducted and I got

3 a very frosty response. And we did not agree about the

4 RUC being researched by me or by any independent

5 academic.

6 Q. It sounds from your statement -- you mention this at the

7 end of paragraph 21, the last page, RNI-802-010

8 (displayed) -- as though this was the one difference you

9 had with him in your various meetings?

10 A. It was entirely friendly except that I think the

11 solicitor to the RUC was rather hostile to the idea and

12 I think Ronnie Flanagan took the tune from him. But it

13 didn't upset our relationships at all.

14 Q. Did they explain why?

15 A. Well, I can't remember precisely but I just thought that

16 they were not going to have any research as to how they

17 conducted their activities. And that is a pretty common

18 feature, I think, of -- dare I say it, that police

19 forces over the years have not been terribly conducive

20 to research by outside academics; I think probably less

21 so today than it was in the 1990s.

22 Q. Did you get the sense that they were concerned that

23 research of this kind might actually interfere with the

24 process of questioning suspects?

25 A. Yes.

 

 

118

 

1 Q. So they having responded, presumably that was the end of

2 the plan to do the research?

3 A. Oh, absolutely. Well, it never got off the ground.

4 Q. But the discussion was amicable on both sides?

5 A. Oh, totally, and in fact my recollection of that

6 meeting, it was exclusively about that and about no

7 other aspect of the holding centres.

8 Q. Thank you. In, I think, October 1997, during his

9 mission to the United Kingdom, you met the Special

10 Rapporteur, Mr Cumaraswamy, didn't you?

11 A. I did.

12 Q. And presumably in the course of that conversation you

13 discussed with him your work as Independent Commissioner

14 on the holding centres?

15 A. I would have done.

16 Q. We know from the text both of the draft report which he

17 issued and indeed from the final report, that there were

18 various references to your office and work that you did

19 made by him in the course of his text?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And it is right, isn't it, that you took specific

22 objection to two such references in correspondence after

23 publication?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Can we look, please, at RNI-110-146 (displayed). Now,

 

 

119

 

1 the first concerned paragraph 19 of his report where he

2 made a reference, I think, to your deputy?

3 A. Well, I still don't understand what he was saying. He

4 talked about the incident at Gough Barracks on

5 14th October 1997 and describes what makes this case

6 unique and disturbing. For the life of me, I can't

7 understand what was unique or disturbing about it.

8 I mean, Dr Norris was present -- which, of course, that

9 happened from time to time, that we were present at

10 interrogations, and it was quite clear that when the

11 issue was raised, Dr Norris said no such conversation

12 took place, full stop.

13 Q. Can we look at the paragraph of the final report just so

14 we can put your letter in context?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. It is at RNI-110-107 (displayed). Do you see

17 paragraph 19 begins at the bottom of the page. The

18 first thing I wanted to ask you is when you met

19 Mr Cumaraswamy in October, did he raise this incident

20 with you?

21 A. Do you know, I can't remember whether he did.

22 Incidentally, I had known him previously. I mean, he

23 was well-known as a civil liberties lawyer from, I

24 think, Sri Lanka and well respected.

25 Q. But you can't remember whether he raised this particular

 

 

120

 

1 incident with you when you met him in October 1997?

2 A. My inclination is to say no, because I wasn't involved

3 in it.

4 Q. Sorry, you weren't involved in the incident?

5 A. That's right.

6 Q. Yes, exactly. But as I understand it, what prompted you

7 to write the letter of objection, which we have just

8 looked at, is simply because, apart from the fact that

9 you weren't quite sure what he was driving at, you

10 believed that his account was factually incorrect?

11 A. Well, not only was it factually incorrect, but even if

12 it was factually incorrect, I mean, the inference that

13 he was drawing, that this somehow supported the

14 allegations which were being made by solicitors, seemed

15 to me to be not relevant.

16 Q. Do you think it is something that he should have raised

17 with you before including it in his report?

18 A. Well, yes, absolutely. There are other things that he

19 should have raised with me as well.

20 Q. Can you give some examples?

21 A. I mean, for example, I think it is he who said that

22 there was hostility to my proposal for a legal advice

23 unit.

24 Q. Yes.

25 A. And I think that is the second point that I make in the

 

 

121

 

1 letter.

2 Q. Yes.

3 A. But it was very unfair of somebody who was an

4 Independent Commissioner not to have put the other side

5 of the story, that there were lots of people who were

6 very supportive of the idea, and if the Law Society had

7 accepted it, it might very well have gone ahead.

8 Q. So that this example that we have looked at seemed to

9 you, did it, to be a rather one-sided approach to the

10 controversy?

11 A. That is a nice way of putting it.

12 Q. Thank you. On that basis, as I understand it -- this is

13 RNI-110-147 (displayed) -- the second part of your first

14 objection, what I think you were saying is, "Look, you

15 have come to a general conclusion in your paragraph 90.

16 This particular example provides no support for that"?

17 A. That's right.

18 Q. Thank you. Can you remember whether you received

19 a response to this letter?

20 A. My recollection is that I did not receive a response.

21 Q. Thank you.

22 The next comment you make is in relation to your

23 legal advice unit and I think it is right, isn't it,

24 that the reference there on the page on the screen to 53

25 is an incorrect reference. It should be 55?

 

 

122

 

1 A. I apologise.

2 Q. Not at all. Can we look at paragraph 55, please? It is

3 at RNI-110-120 (displayed).

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And as I understand it, the objections here are, first,

6 the suggestion that the proposal had come under severe

7 criticism. That is in the eighth line.

8 A. Yes. It is paragraph 55.

9 Q. Indeed, which you didn't accept?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. As you have explained. But secondly, as I understand

12 it, you took issue with the suggestion that you had:

13 "... withdrawn this proposal"?

14 A. That's right. I never withdrew it, and I think I was

15 quoting earlier on in the third report that it became

16 otiose in the sense that we had moved on, but the

17 proposal was still a proposal that I would adhere to

18 today.

19 I would say the idea of a duty solicitors system in

20 a police station or holding centre where people are

21 detained without trial is, I think, a proposal worth

22 examining.

23 Q. Again, can I ask you was this issue of the legal advice

24 unit one you remember discussing with the Rapporteur

25 when you met him in October?

 

 

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1 A. It was certainly the subject of some discussion. I

2 think I became too powerful an advocate for something

3 that I thought of and I think I was becoming rather

4 tiresome about it.

5 Q. Well, you see, what the Rapporteur suggests in this last

6 sentence of the paragraph is that it was during those

7 discussions, the discussions with you, that he, the

8 Rapporteur, learned that you had withdrawn the proposal.

9 So the suggestion is surely that you told him in October

10 that you had withdrawn it?

11 A. I certainly hadn't, and I think my third report of 1995,

12 which I don't think I would have resiled from, clearly

13 indicated that I wasn't withdrawing the proposal.

14 What I was doing was simply saying it now becomes

15 a matter of history, because we are moving on to audio

16 and video recording. Remember, this is the end of 1997

17 and we are on the point of getting audio and video

18 recording in the following year.

19 Q. So to summarise then, this was not something that you

20 told the Rapporteur and it was, as a matter of fact,

21 incorrect?

22 A. He has misreported me.

23 Q. Thank you.

24 Can we return, please, to paragraph 21 of your

25 statement. This is RNI-802-009 (displayed). Now, this

 

 

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1 paragraph begins, do you see, with a reference by you to

2 a report produced by British Irish Rights Watch?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. And you then set out various comments said to be in that

5 report but made by Mr Flanagan, and they are in

6 quotation marks in the text?

7 A. I think Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

8 Q. Sir Ronnie Flanagan, as he now is, certainly. What I

9 would like to do to try and get to the bottom of this,

10 if I may, is to show you first the draft report of the

11 Rapporteur.

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. That is at RNI-110-048 (displayed).

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Can you see it on the screen?

16 A. Yes, I do. It is not up yet.

17 Q. Oh. Can we have RNI-110-048?

18 A. Yes, it is up.

19 Q. Oh, excellent. If you look at paragraph 21, then about

20 seven lines from the end do you see this sentence:

21 "However, the Chief Constable did express the view

22 that some solicitors may in fact be working for

23 paramilitaries"?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Which is not quite the same but close to the sentence

 

 

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1 you quote in paragraph 21?

2 A. Near enough.

3 Q. Exactly. And then a little further down:

4 "In this regard, he stated that this is more than

5 a suspicion. He explained that one agenda of the

6 paramilitary organisations is to ensure that detainees

7 remain silent, and thus one role of a solicitor is to

8 convey this message to the detainees."

9 Which, again, looks rather similar, doesn't it, to

10 what you quote in your paragraph 21?

11 A. As coming from the British Human Rights Watch.

12 Q. Indeed. It looks, doesn't it, as though those original

13 remarks are more likely to have come from

14 Mr Cumaraswamy?

15 A. I think that is a perfectly reasonable explanation.

16 Q. The other comment that you cite in this same paragraph,

17 in the third line, is:

18 "Comments made by Ronnie Flanagan regarding the

19 corruption of solicitors."

20 A. Will you just refer me to that? This is paragraph 21.

21 Q. I am sorry, sorry. It is at RNI-802-009 (displayed).

22 A. Yes, got it. Yes.

23 Q. That expression and the use of the word "corruption"

24 does not appear, as you see, in paragraph 21?

25 A. In paragraph 21?

 

 

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1 Q. The one we were looking at on the screen, which is still

2 there. Do you see --

3 A. Oh, this is the Cumaraswamy draft.

4 Q. Exactly.

5 A. Yes. But it comes from the Human Rights Watch.

6 Q. Exactly.

7 A. They used the word "corruption", and of course I hadn't

8 seen the draft of Cumaraswamy.

9 Q. No. When you made this statement you hadn't seen the

10 Cumaraswamy Report, had you, in draft?

11 A. Not at all.

12 Q. No, thank you. Can we just try and see where the

13 expression comes from, please.

14 If we look at the British Irish Rights Watch report

15 at RNI-115-085 (displayed). This is a letter sent to

16 you, do you see, by Jane Winter of that organisation?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. On 19th December 1996. So some months before the visit

19 of the Rapporteur and your conversation with him?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And then --

22 A. My conversation would have been with him some time

23 in October of 1997, I think.

24 Q. Yes. In this report, which is entitled "Report to the

25 United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of

 

 

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1 Judges and Lawyers", that is the next page, we see at

2 section 5, a section which is RNI-115-095 (displayed) of

3 this file, a section headed "The Role of the Independent

4 Commissioner"?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. We have looked at passages from this already. The

7 passage I would like to draw to your attention in fact

8 occurs at RNI-115-097 (displayed).

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. And it is paragraph 5.6.

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. And again, it is a reference here to the third report,

13 the report that you and I have already been through in

14 some detail earlier.

15 A. And it is the very last sentence of 5.6.

16 Q. Exactly:

17 "The overall impression left by this section of the

18 report is that the Commissioner believed that some

19 solicitors who regularly attend Castlereagh are

20 corrupt."

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. So on reflection, do you think that is the quotation

23 from British Irish Rights Watch which you are referring

24 to in paragraph 21 of your statement?

25 A. Absolutely. I mean, that's where I picked it up and of

 

 

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1 course I put it in quotes, because -- as I say, I would

2 never use that word and I never had used that word. And

3 I think the letter from Sir Geoffrey Bindman totally

4 refutes any suggestion that that was an inference to be

5 drawn from my advocacy of the legal advice unit.

6 Q. So it was never your view --

7 A. Never.

8 Q. -- to be absolutely clear about this -- that any

9 solicitors you were talking about in the course of your

10 work were corrupted?

11 A. One would need evidence to make such a statement, and

12 while I totally accept that there was a good deal of

13 suspicion, I never, never came across any evidence which

14 translated that into corruption.

15 Q. This was an issue, the specific idea that you held the

16 view that there was corruption of lawyers in

17 Northern Ireland, this was a matter which was raised

18 with you after Rosemary Nelson's murder by the BBC in

19 the person of John Ware, wasn't it?

20 A. Do you know, I don't remember that.

21 Q. Can you have a look, please, at RNI-110-254.500

22 (displayed).

23 A. I don't think I have seen this document.

24 Q. I think there is a hard copy there for you.

25 A. I am sorry, I am misleading you. I saw it when

 

 

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1 I received this bundle yesterday. But I had never seen

2 it before.

3 Q. It doesn't appear to be coming up on our screens.

4 A. I have got it in hard copy. It is always better than on

5 the screen.

6 Q. Well, perhaps we can do what we can with the two hard

7 copies which are in the room.

8 A. Incidentally, I took -- when I read this yesterday,

9 I took "JW" to be Jane Winter.

10 Q. It may comfort you to know that you are not the first

11 person to make that error.

12 A. I am glad to be comforted with that.

13 Q. Thank you. But it appears to be a note, we believe, by

14 John Ware, dated 9th June, of a telephone conversation

15 with you. Can I just quote the first part.

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. "Sir Louis said this he had never spoken about the ..."

18 And it is in quotation marks:

19 "... 'corruption' of lawyers in Northern Ireland,

20 not publicly nor to the Chief Constable privately. He

21 had recommended that there be a public defender service

22 on duty at the holding centres so that both the

23 detainees and the RUC could complete interrogations

24 sooner. At the moment, these are often delayed by up to

25 eight hours when the detainee exercises his or her right

 

 

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1 to counsel of their choice. The Law Society had opposed

2 Blom-Cooper's proposal."

3 A. That is wholly unobjectionable.

4 Q. Thank you. Is recites your position on the face of it,

5 doesn't it, in June 1999, that you had never spoken

6 about the corruption of lawyers in Northern Ireland,

7 either publicly or to the Chief Constable privately?

8 A. It would have been totally against my whole instinct

9 about this area of my activity to have used such a word.

10 I mean, it is a very strong word, "corruption". I think

11 you would want a lot of evidence before you began to

12 make an allegation of that sort. Suspicion there was,

13 but evidence of even unprofessional behaviour was

14 totally lacking so far as I was concerned.

15 Q. Were you ever aware during the course of your work that

16 others believed you to hold such views?

17 A. It is always a difficult to answer what other people

18 believe about you.

19 Q. Were you ever made aware of that view?

20 A. No.

21 Q. Now --

22 A. I just simply said I would have thought my record would

23 have given the complete answer to anybody who might have

24 thought that.

25 Q. Can I just show you a handwritten document. It is at

 

 

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1 RNI-110-033 (displayed). These are notes of the meeting

2 which took place between the Rapporteur, his assistant,

3 Mr Parra, and the Chief Constable and two other

4 officers, and I think these are notes you have been

5 shown before giving evidence, aren't they?

6 A. I saw them about two hours ago for the first time.

7 Q. Well, the passage that is of interest -- and obviously

8 you weren't present at that meeting?

9 A. I wasn't.

10 Q. But do you see about ten lines from the bottom?

11 A. I do, and clearly.

12 Q. "Sir Louis has commented upon corruption of solicitors

13 and there are those who working for a paramilitary

14 agenda and part of that agenda is to make sure that

15 detainees do not speak stifling any means of

16 communicating info."

17 Was that comment about corruption one that you had

18 ever made to Sir Ronnie Flanagan or any other senior

19 officer of the RUC?

20 A. Certainly not.

21 Q. So are you able to help us with how your views came to

22 be misinterpreted in the context of this meeting?

23 A. Well, as you say, I wasn't present at this meeting.

24 Sir Ronnie Flanagan was and he will be able to tell you

25 whether in fact he said what is recorded in this

 

 

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1 document. I find it really quite astonishing that that

2 remark should be made.

3 Q. What you say in your statement is, and I quote:

4 "At most, when discussing such issues, I would have

5 spoken of unprofessionalism."

6 A. Well, that was making a sort of general remark and this

7 is -- remember, this is October 1997. I wouldn't be

8 talking about unprofessional conduct or anything else

9 about suspicious behaviour on the part of lawyers or RUC

10 officers. I have long since moved on from that. So

11 that when I make the statement that I would never use

12 that word, I am really referring to 1993/1994/1995. But

13 by the time of 1997, this would not be an issue.

14 Q. Thank you. Sir Louis, those are the only matters I wish

15 to raise with you. What I always say to witnesses at

16 the end of the questioning is that this is their

17 opportunity to raise any matter that they wish to in

18 relation to the Inquiry's work. Is there anything you

19 wish to add?

20 A. No, I don't think so. I think you have covered it all.

21 I hope I have covered all that is of interest to the

22 Inquiry.

23 Q. Thank you.

24 THE CHAIRMAN: Sir Louis, we are extremely grateful for the

25 help you have given us and we thank you for coming from

 

 

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1 England to give evidence before us.

2 A. As you know, Sir Michael, I am so imbued with public

3 inquiries that I can understand your gratitude. I wish

4 I could have said that to all the witnesses who came in

5 front of me.

6 THE CHAIRMAN: I haven't said it to all the witnesses.

7 A. Then I am even more grateful.

8 THE CHAIRMAN: We will rise now until 10.15 tomorrow

9 morning.

10 (4.20 pm)

11 (The Inquiry adjourned until 10.15 am the following day)

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1 I N D E X

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MR PATRICK VERNON (continued) .................... 1
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Questions by MR PHILLIPS (continued) ......... 1
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Questions by SIR ANTHONY BURDEN .............. 38
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Questions by DAME VALERIE STRACHAN ........... 40
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Questions by MR PHILLIPS (continued) ......... 41
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SIR LOUIS BLOM-COOPER (affirmed) ................. 47
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Questions by MR PHILLIPS ..................... 47
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