Police Service of Northern Ireland decision to terminate 2014 investigation into the “interrogation in depth” of detainees in 1971 quashed


Re: McGuigan’s & Anor’s Application for Judicial Review, Re [2017] NIQB 96

This case concerns the ‘Hooded Men’, 14 men from Northern Ireland who were subjected to interrogation techniques in 1971, including prolonged hooding, referred to as “the five techniques”. Their treatment led to the case of Ireland v. UK, determined by the ECtHR in the 1970s. The applicants were one of the Hooded Men, and the daughter of another, who is deceased, allegedly as a consequence of the treatment received. They sought judicial review of the refusal by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and others to ensure an effective investigation into their torture, on rationality grounds, and pursuant to the procedural obligation arising under ECHR, arts 2 and 3.

The Court found that the decision not to investigate the Hooded Men’s ill-treatment, following the emergence of new evidence, including that implicating named individuals in the authorisation of the five techniques, was unreasonable and irrational. The Court quashed the decision on that basis. It held, however, that it was bound by the case of Re McKerr’s Application for Judicial Review, Re [2004] UKHL 12, [2004] 1 W.L.R. 807 to hold that there was no procedural obligation to investigate under ECHR, arts 2 and 3 as a matter of domestic law, because the relevant events pre-dated the entry into force of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh and Hugh Southey QC were involved in this case.