Gerard Magee V UK Government

The European Court of Human Rights has today issued a judgement in respect of the case of Gerard Magee in which the Court has found that the UK Government is in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Gerard Magee was arrested in December 1988 and detained in Castlereagh Holding Centre over two days without access to a solicitor. Access had been deferred for 48 hours under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. He made allegations of ill treatment while in custody and was interviewed in the absence of a solicitor. The only evidence against Gerard Magee when he was subsequently tried was his own statement which was extracted during the 48 hour period he was denied access to a solicitor. Mr Magee was tried for possession of explosives with intent and conspiracy to cause explosions and convicted by a Diplock court in 1991 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. Mr Magee appealed his conviction but this was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland in 1994. He subsequently lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights but served the majority of his 10 year sentence.

In his European Application Mr Magee alleged that the admission extracted from him at interview, which was obtained over the 48 hours he was denied access to a solicitor, was in breach of his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention.