Kennedys at Hill appeal to judge Ulster justice

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The Independent Online
IRISH AMERICA and the Northern Ireland legal system collided in Belfast yesterday as a contingent of the Kennedy clan arrived to hear new legal claims of police wrong-doing in the Guildford Four case.

Counsel for one of the Four, Paul Hill, told the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal of evidence of serious impropriety on the part of ten of thirteen Surrey police officers involved in the case. Three have been acquitted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Most media attention, however, focused on the presence of half a dozen Kennedys in Belfast. Hill, 39, who is married to the late Bobby Kennedy's daughter Courtney, is appealing against his conviction for the murder of an ex-soldier, Brian Shaw. He was released pending appeal in 1989 and met Miss Kennedy on a tour of the US.

Among the Kennedy contingent yesterday were Courtney, her mother, Ethel and brother, Congressman Joe Kennedy. Undaunted by the Belfast snow and a scrum of American camera crews, the congressman declared: 'We are here to support Paul in his struggle for justice. The eyes of the world are on the legal system here. I am hopeful there is a chance for an Irish Catholic to get justice here in Northern Ireland.'

Hill arrived at court dressed in a sober black overcoat and dark business suit. His entourage had to struggle through scores of reporters and film crews to enter the building.

The hearing was also attended by numerous representatives of human rights groups, including Amnesty International. The demand for seats was such that the hearing was switched to the city's largest courtroom.

In addition to his conviction for the Guildford and Woolwich bombings, which have been quashed, Hill also received a life sentence for the murder of Mr Shaw, who in 1974 strayed into the Falls Road and was picked up and shot dead by the IRA. His appeal is based on the argument that the only evidence against him was a confession he says was made after severe ill-treatment at the hands of the police.

The case, which is expected to last up to three weeks, is being heard by Northern Ireland Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Hutton, and two other judges.

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Heather Mills, page 20