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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine