The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) has launched a High Court challenge over being denied access to hearings on whether to release bomber Marian Price.
The CAJ wanted to attend the Northern Ireland Parole Commissioners’ proceedings as an observer.
Lawyers for the body claimed yesterday that the decision to refuse its request was unlawful.
Price has since been released from custody, but they argued that the case forms part of a wider policy of refusing applications to attend Parole Commissioner hearings.
Barrister Dessie Hutton, for CAJ, told the court his client had particular concerns about the case of Price, 59, who is also known as Marian McGlinchey, who spent two years behind bars before being freed in May. She served a jail sentence for her part in the 1973 IRA bomb attack on London’s Old Bailey courts.
Her licence had been revoked in 2011 by the then Secretary of State Owen Paterson.
The CAJ had applied to be present as an observer at hearings before the Parole Commissioners determined she could be released again. Permitting its attendance would have ensured an additional layer of transparency and accountability, Mr Hutton contended.
But Donal Sayers, responding for the Parole Commissioners,insisted that the challenge was academic. He also pointed out that in the case of Price, she was represented by a firm of solicitors along with senior and junior counsel.
Stressing the privacy surrounding the hearings, Mr Sayers added: “It’s difficult to see what a watchdog who would be unable to bark could have added to the proceedings.”
Mr Justice Treacy reserved his decision on whether to grant leave to seek a judicial review.