THE US Supreme Court is to be asked to hear what will be the last legal attempt to block the PSNI’s request for access to an archive of taped interviews with Troubles era terrorists.
The latest legal bid to stop the Boston College recordings being handed over to the police failed at the end of last week.
The two men who were behind the project — journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA man Anthony McIntyre, who is now an academic — had applied for an ‘en banc’ appeal court hearing after a series of other legal challenges had failed.
An en banc hearing which would have allowed them to have the case heard before the entire bench of the First Circuit Court of Appeal after a panel of judges rejected their appeal.
However, that application was dismissed on Friday. Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre immediately made clear that they intended to appeal to the US Supreme Court in a final attempt to stop the tapes being released.
There is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will even agree to hear the case, as each year it receives thousands of requests for hearings.
In a statement, Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre said that they intended to apply to the Supreme Court as they believed that the case raised “issues of major constitutional importance for Americans”.
They said: “The First Circuit’s decision means that the IRA interviews lodged at Boston College could theoretically be handed over to the PSNI next Friday, September 7, on the same day as Boston College’s own appeal comes before the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Boston.
“The application is based on a number of issues of great public interest and constitutional importance, not least that one effect of the First Circuit decision is to give foreign law enforcement agencies greater power over US citizens in respect of subpoenas than could ever be exercised by domestic agencies.”
The PSNI initially requested access to the Boston College vault last March and since then has faced a series of legal challenges to its request, initially from Boston College and then from Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre.
Detectives believe that the interviews contain details of how mother-of-10 Jean McConville was murdered and came under pressure to reinvestigate the atrocity when it emerged in 2010 that former IRA commander Brendan Hughes had told researchers that Gerry Adams personally ordered Mrs McConville’s murder.
The Sinn Fein president, who denies ever being a member of the IRA, has denied Hughes’ claim.