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

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
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

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes