Political parties in Northern Ireland welcome court ruling on Hooded Men's torture allegations

Political parties in Northern Ireland welcome court ruling on Hooded Men's torture allegations

POLITICAL parties in the North have welcomed the ruling today by the UK Supreme Court that a decision made by police not to investigate allegations of torture of the so-called ‘hooded men’ by British soldiers at the height of the Troubles was unlawful.

In 2014 the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) decided to discontinue an investigation into allegations of torture of the 14 men – who claim they were subjected to a series of controversial interrogation techniques when they were interned without trial by the British Army in Northern Ireland in 1971.

The techniques included hooding and being put in stress positions for long periods of time, being forced to listen to white noise and being denied sleep, food and water.

The PSNI brought the case to the Supreme Court this month, after it failed in Belfast’s Court of Appeal.

The force was attempting to overturn a High Court ruling that found the police should revisit its decision to end its investigation into the treatment of the men.

However, Lord Hodge, delivering the judgement at the Supreme Court today, refused to overturn the decision.

Referencing a memo, which outlined the alleged torture inflicted upon the 14 Irishmen, he said: "The court finds that the PSNI’s decision taken on October 17, 2014 not to investigate further the allegation in the Rees Memo was based on a seriously flawed report, was therefore irrational, and falls to be quashed."

Political leaders across the North have since welcomed the ruling.

The SDLP’s Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said there must now be a full independent investigation into allegations of torture brought forward by the men.

Mrs Kelly, an MLA for Upper Bann, added: “This verdict was another step forward for the hooded men as they continue their long battle for justice.

“Despite it being widely acknowledged that these men went through a horrendous experience, they have been met with opposition at every turn in their attempt to have a full investigation carried out.”

She added: “There are serious lessons for the PSNI to learn from this judgement.

“We must now see a full independent investigation into what happened to the hooded men in 1971.

“No matter how long it takes, no matter how many courts or hearings they have to go through, while hope remains, victims will continue to campaign.”

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly also welcomed the announcement.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that the decision by the PSNI to discontinue the investigation into the torture of the ‘hooded men’ in 2014 was unlawful,” he said.

“The court also commented that the treatment to which the ‘hooded men’ were subjected to would be characterised today as torture stating 'It is likely that the deplorable treatment to which the ‘hooded men’ were subjected at the hands of the security forces would be characterised today, applying the standards of 2021, as torture.

"There is a growing body of high judicial authority in support of this view.

“In addition to the physical beatings experienced by the ‘Hooded Men’, extreme physiological torture methods were also used.”

He added: "This case should not simply be viewed in the context of the Irish conflict, rather it goes to the very heart of defining what torture is.

“It is important that a message is sent out that torture is unacceptable regardless of the perpetrator.

“These men have campaigned for almost 50 years for truth and justice. They should not have to wait a moment longer.”