Fears over secret closed door hearings increase after former IRA mole is denied access to his own case

The judge said he had “principled and pragmatic” reasons for allowing the Home Secretary’s application

Media Editor

Fears over the Government’s use of secret closed-door hearings have increased after a High Court judge ruled in favour of Home Secretary Theresa May’s application to deny a former IRA mole access to his own case.

The finding means that Martin McGartland, who is credited with saving 50 lives after supplying intelligence to the British authorities, must rely on a special advocate who neither he nor his lawyers will have direct access to.

Lawyers for Mr McGartland, who with his partner Jo Asher is suing MI5 and the Home Office for its alleged failure to provide him with after care of medical support and benefit payments, say the case has no bearing on national security.

Mr Justice Mitting’s ruling in favour of an application by the Home Secretary is based on the Justice & Security Act 2013, which allows the security services to apply for cases to be heard in controversial closed material proceedings without claimants or their lawyers being present.

“The judge has given primacy to secrecy over every other consideration,” said Nogah Ofer, Mr McGartland’s solicitor. “It does not even give lip service to the right of a claimant to have knowledge of the evidence in his own case. This is someone who worked for the British state as an informant, it’s not someone who was a terrorist. It’s a million miles away from what the legislation was supposed to be addressing.”

The judge said he had “principled and pragmatic” reasons for allowing the Home Secretary’s application. To properly consider the case, he would need to consider sensitive material which could only be dealt with in secret.

Ms Ofer said Mr McGartland would be taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

His cover as a mole was blown in 1991 when he fell under suspicion and was “arrested” by the IRA before being taken for interrogation. Believing he was about to be murdered after eight hours of questioning, he threw himself from a third floor window. He suffered serious head injuries but was rescued by locals who called an ambulance.

McGartland was given a new identity but he was attacked and repeatedly shot by an IRA hit team who tracked him to a safe house in North Tyneside in 1999. His experiences formed the basis of the 2008 film 50 Dead Men Walking, starring Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley.

In contesting his claim that he has received insufficient after care, the Home Office is refusing to acknowledge that he even worked for the British state by taking a “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) position.

The Justice & Security Act was previously used earlier this year in the case of Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, 27, a terror suspect who went missing after changing into a burka at a mosque. Although he was missing, lawyers acting on his behalf applied for the quashing of restrictions on his movements introduced by the Home Secretary.

A judge had previously ruled that there were reasonable grounds for believing that Mr Mohamed and a second individual, referred to only as CF, had been involved in terrorism-related activities.

Ms Ofer said that the McGartland case was more akin to the treatment of police informants, which are routinely handled by the courts without recourse to such secrecy. “We don’t accept that there are national security issues here,” she said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Recruitment Genius: HVAC & Mechanical Service Estimator

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Yorkshire based firm looking to...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty