IRA 'fixer' could be the first to fight conviction

A man jailed for 30 years as a top IRA "fixer" could be one of the first to appeal against conviction after the disclosure that equipment used to test for explosives had been contaminated, his solicitor said last night.

Nicholas Mullen was convicted at the Old Bailey in June 1990 for being part of a mainland IRA terrorist cell, linked to a major bomb factory in a flat in Clapham, south London. The cache found there was one of the biggest seen in Britain: it included 40 detonators, radio control and time-delay devices - and 106lbs of Semtex.

Mullen, 47, telephoned his solicitor, Michael Fisher, yesterday from Belmarsh prison asking him to start work immediately on an appeal.

This was because part of the evidence against him was the finding of traces of explosives in cars linked to Mullen, said Mr Fisher. "My client instructed me to lodge an application for leave to appeal," he said. "I am probably the first off the block on this one."

Mr Fisher said he was already preparing a long-planned appeal - based on the way Mullen was arrested in Zimbabwe - and had a transcript of the trial. "The judge summed up the evidence of the traces of explosives in the car by telling the jury: 'So there was Semtex then'. The question now is: was there?"

Mullen always claimed he was befriended by people he did not know were part of an IRA unit. He thought that they were fraudsters, and helped them find accommodation and vehicles, said Mr Fisher.

The number of terrorism convictions that could be overturned as a result of the findings is hard to estimate. Each case would depend on how central the evidence relating to explosives is likely to have been to the conviction, and the strength of other evidence. Convicted prisoners, like Mullen, who have not yet applied to appeal to the Court of Appeal would have their cases heard under the new Criminal Appeal Act 1995, which came into force in January and which makes appeals easier to pursue.

The case of Sean McNulty, jailed for 25 years in 1994 for a seven- week Semtex bombing campaign in north-east England, is another one that might reach the appeal court.

David Hammond, McNulty's solicitor, said yesterday that forensic evidence compiled at the Fort Halstead laboratory was the basis of the prosecution's claim that traces of RDX, a component of Semtex, were found on his car and clothing. The defence claimed in court that McNulty, 26, was not involved in the bombings, and traces of Semtex found at his home had been placed there accidentally by police who had visited the scenes of the bombings. The rest of the evidence was circumstantial. McNulty has already lodged an application for leave to appeal.

Another potential appellant might be Hugh Jack, sentenced to 20 years in 1995 for conspiring to cause explosions by storing Semtex and other bomb- making equipment.

Fall of forensic science? page 21

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Civil Engineering

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS1 & KS2 Teachers Required

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea