‘Hooded men’ win first battle in torture inquiry bid

Members of the so-called 'hooded men' arrive at court for Thursday's hearing
Members of the so-called 'hooded men' arrive at court for Thursday's hearing

A group of men who claim they were interned and tortured in Northern Ireland more than 40 years ago have cleared the first stage in a legal battle to have their case fully investigated.

Lawyers representing the so-called “hooded men” were granted leave to seek a judicial review at the High Court in Belfast.

Action is being taken against the Chief Constable, Secretary of State and the Department of Justice over alleged failures to properly probe and order a full inquiry.

Fourteen men claimed they were subjected to torture techniques after being held without trial back in 1971.

They said they were forced to listen to constant loud static noise, deprived of sleep, food and water, forced to stand in a stress position and beaten if they fell.

The men were hooded and thrown to the ground from helicopters taking them to an interrogation centre, according to their case.

Despite being at near ground level, they had been told they were hundreds of feet in the air.

In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights held that the UK had carried out inhuman and degrading treatment – but fell short of making a finding of torture.

Last year the Irish government decided to ask the ECHR to revise its judgment.

In a further legal move 11 of the men have now come together in a bid to force a full inquiry.

Separate proceedings have also been lodged by the daughter of Sean McKenna, another of the group whose death has been blamed on his treatment.

Many of those taking legal action were in court on Thursday as Mr Justice Treacy was told their application for leave to seek a judicial review was not being opposed.

Tony McGleenan QC, for for the Secretary of State and Chief Constable, said: “That doesn’t say we will not resist the issues on the merits.

“It’s a recognition that there are issues requiring to be explored.”

Granting leave to seek a judicial review in both applications, Mr Justice Treacy ruled they should proceed “in tandem”.

He listed the cases for full hearing over four days starting on November 30.