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Case details

In the matter of an application by Mary McKenna for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) No 2

Case ID: 2020/0026

Case summary


(1) Whether there has been a breach of the procedural obligation under article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, or of common law principles of independence, or of legitimate expectations, due to the decision of the Police Service of Northern Ireland that there was no evidence to warrant an investigation, compliant with Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention, into the allegation that the UK Government authorised and used torture in Northern Ireland in relation to two of the "hooded men";

(2) In particular, whether the Police Service of Northern Ireland is sufficiently independent to carry out any necessary investigation into the treatment of the "hooded men." In finding that it was not the Court of Appeal relied heavily on its previous judgment in McQuillan, a judgment in respect of which leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on the issue of police independence, inter alia, has now been granted by the Court of Appeal.


This appeal arises from the detention and mistreatment of 12 individuals in August 1971, following a major arrest operation in Northern Ireland, carried out using powers of detention referred to as "internment." The group of individuals has come to be known as the "hooded men." The men were detained in the custody of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, with support provided by military personnel. During their detention, Francis McGuigan and Mary McKenna’s father (Sean McKenna) were subjected to treatment which was later found by the European Court of Human Right to have been in breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The judicial review proceedings leading to this appeal were issued following the discovery, via a 2014 RTE Documentary, of additional documentary materials relevant to the mistreatment in question. Following such discovery, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland stated that he would arrange a further investigation into the mistreatment. The present proceedings raise a number of issues concerning the compatibility of the proposed investigation with the European Convention on Human Rights and with the common law.

Judgment appealed

[2019] NICA 46



Department of Justice


  1. Mary McKenna
  2. Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland



Lord Hodge, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Kitchin, Lord Sales, Lord Hamblen, Lord Leggatt, Lord Burrows

Hearing start date

14 June 2021

Hearing finish date

16 June 2021