Cost of failed Ivor Bell prosecution to public purse revealed

A failed attempt to prosecute a veteran republican in connection with the murder and secret burial of Jean McConville cost the public purse over £100,000,

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 4:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st November 2019, 4:25 pm
Ivor Bell

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) disclosed the costs following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Ivor Bell, 82, was cleared of two charges of soliciting the 1972 murder of the mother of 10 after a trial of the facts effectively collapsed earlier this year as a judge ruled a key piece of evidence was inadmissible.

The PPS disclosed that costs for legal counsel were £107,377 while witness costs were £2,109, creating a total bill of £109,486.

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A spokesman for the PPS said it was satisfied it had met the test for prosecution.

The prosecution case against Mr Bell centred on taped interviews given by a person referred to as Z to Boston College’s Belfast Project.

The trial of the facts collapsed last month after Mr Justice O’Hara ruled that the Boston Tapes were unreliable and could not be used as evidence against Mr Bell.

One of Mrs McConville’s sons said for his family it had been about more than money.

“I found the trial helpful, there were things said in court that we hadn’t known about,” Michael McConville said. “It’s the first time anyone was up in court, I had never thought there would be a court case.”