IRA mole Martin McGartland’s case against Home Office may be heard in secret

 

The case of an IRA mole who is suing the Home Office for compensation after MI5 withdrew medical support and benefits payments should be heard in secret, lawyers acting for the Government said today.

Martin McGartland and his partner Jo Asher are taking action in a test case surrounding controversial new secrecy rules that deny defendants access to the evidence against them.

A two-day hearing, partially heard in secret in London’s High Court today, began after the Home Secretary Theresa May applied to have the case heard behind closed doors – known as a closed material procedure.

These allow the judge and one party to a civil dispute to see sensitive evidence but prevent claimants and the public from knowing precisely what is being alleged. They were introduced by the Justice and Security Act, which came into force late last year.

Ms May also wants to follow the “neither confirm nor deny” policy regarding whether Mr Gartland was ever an informant or agent of the state or not.

Nogah Ofer, the couple’s solicitor, argues that Mr McGartland’s role has already been confirmed.

She said: “This attempt to keep secret what has already been openly admitted by the relevant Government agencies is profoundly shocking.”

Mr McGartland has written two books about his undercover work, Fifty Dead Men Walking – named after the estimated number of lives he is said to have saved during his time as an IRA mole – and Dead Man Running. The former was turned into a 2008 film starring Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley. Mr McGartland has also featured in a BBC documentary.

He fell under suspicion by the IRA and was “arrested” by republicans in 1991 and interrogated for eight hours, finally escaping by jumping head first through a third-floor window. He was given a new identity and moved to England. Ms Asher, who is Mr McGartland’s full-time carer, resettled with him after he was tracked down and shot seven times by an IRA hit squad at their home in Gateshead in 1999.

Papers lodged with the court list instances in which Mr McGartland’s role has been confirmed by the Government or its agencies.

Speaking outside court Ms Ofer said that the neither confirm nor deny policy should not apply in his case as precedents had already been set. She gave other examples of Northern Ireland-based government informants that have been publicly confirmed.

One was Brian Nelson, a military intelligence agent within the Ulster Defence Association whose role was admitted by his commanding officer in court proceedings. Another was William Stobie, an agent within the UDA, Declan “Beano” Casey, an IRA man from Strabane, and Peter Keeley, an Army and customs agent.

Regarding her client’s case, Ms Ofer said: “There is no issue of national security because this case is nothing to do with his former work – it is purely about aftercare. It is about not paying for him to see a psychiatrist and not making disability payments.”

The Belfast Telegraph revealed in February that Mr McGartland was unable to collect state benefits because MI5 warned him not to admit the cause of his trauma or his gunshot wounds.

MI5 made up the shortfall, but stopped doing so after he gave an interview to the Northern Ireland newspaper and psychological counselling was also withdrawn.

A decision on whether Mr McGartland’s case will be heard in open court is expected to be made today after his team presents its arguments.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London