Keir Starmer

Maíria Cahill allegations: Sir Keir Starmer to review prosecution cases

Sir Keir Starmer said he had tremendous respect for the people of Northern Ireland and would approach the review with rigorous independence and an open mind.

Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, is to lead a review of three cases linked to Maíria Cahill. 

The Belfast woman told BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme she was raped as a teenager and claimed the IRA helped to cover up her alleged abuse.

Five people accused in connection with the cases were all acquitted.

Days after the broadcast, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service announced the independent review.

'Interlinked cases'

Sir Keir is a leading human rights lawyer who served as head of the Crown Prosecution Service and director of public prosecutions for England and Wales from 2008-2013.

Prior to that role, he spent five years working as human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, said Sir Keir will "conduct an independent review of the prosecutorial systems and processes in relation to three interlinked cases involving sex abuse and terrorist-related charges".

Mr McGrory said: "These cases have been the subject of much public commentary with significant concerns raised. 

"I consider that it is right to have an independent review to maintain and build public confidence in the criminal justice system and in particular the Public Prosecution Service."

Sir Keir said: "I am very pleased to have been asked to lead this review. I have been privileged to have spent considerable time in Northern Ireland and have a tremendous respect for its people.

"I will approach this important task with rigorous independence and an open mind."

Consistently denied

The cases to be reviewed involve the prosecution of Martin Morris, Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright, and Agnes McCrory, (known as Maura).

All five accused were found not guilty when Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

Mr Morris has consistently denied raping or sexually abusing Ms Cahill in 1997, and earlier this year he was acquitted of all charges against him, including a charge of IRA membership.

Four others who Ms Cahill accused of helping to cover up her alleged abuse - Mr Wilson, Mr Finucane, Ms Wright, and Ms McCrory - were also acquitted of IRA membership and other offences in May this year.

'Media onslaught'

Last week, a solicitor acting for those four individuals issued a statement reiterating that his clients had been found not guilty by a court.

He said his clients had been subjected to an "unprecedented media onslaught" since the Spotlight programme was broadcast and claimed their acquittals "have been either ignored or devalued".

Sir Keir is expected to complete the review by spring 2015.

Ms Cahill welcomed the review and said she would "fully participate" in the process.

 

Original Web Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-29808851