Victims demand to know if OTR evidence is admissible

John Downey
John Downey

Victims campaigners are demanding clarity on whether evidence against terror suspects, held by authorities before the issue of on the run letters arose, is inadmissible in court.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said the issue was put into sharp contrast by a BBC Spotlight programme on the subject this week.

“Up until now victims have been given the impression that any evidence against those in receipt of on the run (OTR) letters is admissible for prosecutions,” he told the News Letter.

“However we are very concerned that legal experts on Spotlight said that evidence that was known before the issuing of OTR letters is not admissible in court.”

He pointed out that the programme highlighted convicted IRA member John Downey’s fingerprint was found on the detonator of a bomb which killed UDR members Alfred Johnston and James Eames near Enniskillen in 1972.

Mr Downey’s trial for alleged involvement in the IRA Hyde Park bombing recently fell apart when it was found he had a Government letter which assured him he was not wanted for terrorist activity.

TUV leader Jim Allister called for the immediate arrest of Mr Downey.

He said: “The failure to pursue Downey, despite his fingerprint link to the Johnston and Eames murders, is not just a failure of policing, but a blatant perversion of justice by the dirty politics of the process.”

He added: “The fingerprint evidence still exists. So, I am now calling for an immediate European Arrest Warrant to secure the arrest and extradition of Downey.

“If these OTR letters are really not worth the paper they are written on, as Mr Robinson has foolishly claimed, then let’s see Downey pursued on the basis of the forensic evidence which exists.”

The News Letter asked the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) whether evidence held before the OTR letters were issued is still admissible in court, and about the TUV call for Mr Downey’s arrest.

A PSNI spokesman replied that it would be “inappropriate to comment further as this issue is now the subject of a number of official inquiries”.

The PSNI advised the Policing Board earlier this month that cases involving 228 named individuals would be re-examined, he said.

A spokeswoman for the PPS also said it would be “inappropriate to comment publicly on any individual case” until the reviews have concluded.