Permission to appeal decisions

Permission to appeal decisions by UK Supreme Court

The 'Belfast Project' tapes and Wootton/McConville murder sentence and tariff

19 May 2015

The Supreme Court has today (19 May) announced its decision on two applications for permission to appeal of particular public interest, highlighted below. These decisions were made by a panel of three Supreme Court Justices (Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson and Lord Hughes) following a review of the relevant written submissions.

1. In the matter of an application by Winston Churchill Rea for Judicial Review

The Supreme Court has refused an application to hear an appeal relating to the disclosure of interview tapes from a former paramilitary about his experiences during the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland.

The Appellant, a former paramilitary, gave recorded, confidential interviews about his experiences during the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland. These were transferred to the Burns Library in the USA, to be held securely by them and on the condition the materials would not be disclosed during the Appellant's life without his permission. The Respondent requested assistance from the United States Central Authority for disclosure of the Interview Materials under the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003. The Appellant applied to the High Court to quash the Respondent's request, to compel the Respondent to produce any requests for assistance under the Act in relation to the Interview Materials and for declarations that the Respondent's request was unlawful.

The issue in this case is whether the Respondent's issuing of an the international letter of request for assistance under s. 7(5) of the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003 in relation to the interview materials, was in excess of his powers and in breach of the Appellant's ECHR rights.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal and the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland therefore stands:

The substantive text of the Supreme Court's Order reads:

"Permission to appeal was refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal."

2. R v Wootton and R v McConville

The Supreme Court has refused an application to hear an appeal relating to the sentencing of John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville who were convicted of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll, a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, on 9 March 2009.

The Appellants were convicted on 30 March 2012 of the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, in Lismore Manor shortly before 9.45 pm on 9 March 2009 and possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life or cause serious damage. The First Defendant was also convicted of attempting to make a record of information likely to be useful to a terrorist.

The issue in this case is whether, where the prosecution evidence is insufficient to establish a specified role in a crime and there is no direct evidence of agreement to commit the crime, the court can draw adverse inferences by reason of a failure to give evidence, so as to contribute to a conclusion that the totality of evidence of the was beyond reasonable doubt. Secondly whether, in setting the tariff for a child convicted of murder as a secondary party, bearing in mind the overarching principle of rehabilitation, the court should not increase the sentence by reason of aggravating factors to a level appropriate for an adult.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal and the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland therefore stands:

The substantive text of the Supreme Court's Order reads:

"Permission to appeal was refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal.”