Ivor Bell lawyers seek to establish ‘no case to answer’

Ivor Bell at a previous hearing
Ivor Bell at a previous hearing

Lawyers for a veteran republican charged in connection with the killing of Disappeared victim Jean McConville are to mount a legal bid to have the case thrown out, it emerged on Thursday.

Ivor Bell’s defence team confirmed they will be seeking a hearing to examine the evidence amid claims he has no case to answer.

Bell, 78, faces a charge of soliciting to murder, over an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill Mrs McConville.

The victim was seized by the IRA in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer, then killed and then secretly buried.

Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast, was charged in March last year.

The case against him centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College, who interviewed ex-paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered tapes should be handed to the PSNI.

The accused – who is currently on bail – denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time.

He attended Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Thursday for a scheduled Preliminary Enquiry (PE) hearing to establish if he should be returned for trial.

But defence solicitor Peter Corrigan contended that his client does not have a case to answer.

Mr Corrigan confirmed that Bell will be seeking an alternative Preliminary Inquiry (PI) to decide if he should be committed to the Crown Court.

Under that process witnesses can be called and cross-examined in a bid to test the strength of the evidence.

The case has been adjourned for a further four weeks.