The policy of internment was introduced in Northern Ireland in August 1971 as part of Operation Demetrius. The now infamous policy was continued until December 1975 and approximately 1,900 individuals were arrested and detained without trial in this period.
The stated intention of internment was to combat terrorism and quell the ongoing troubles violence in the early 1970’s. In reality, it’s implementation and operation were legally questionable. Hundreds of innocent young men were arrested and detained for long periods with little or no evidence to link them to terrorist activity.
Internment has had a lasting impact on victims and their family members, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of their detention and treatment at the hands of the authorities.
Until recently any hopes that former internees or their family members may have had about taking legal action against the state would have seemed unlikely given the fact that interment occurred almost 50 years ago.
However, the May 2020 Supreme Court Judgment in R v Adams has shone light on the issue again and has led to an opening of the flood gates as former internees and their family members are now making claims for compensation against the Secretary of State.
The R v Adams Judgment concerned the internment of former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. The key question in R v Adams was whether the making of an Interim Custody Order required special consideration by the Secretary of State or whether the ‘Carltona’ principle applied to permit delegation of this function to a Minister of State.
The Court held that the obligation to consider each Interim Custody Order could not be delegated and should have been done by the Secretary of State personally. In his Judgment Lord Kerr stated that ‘a power to detain without trial and potentially for a limitless period was a momentous one and provided insight in to parliament’s intention that a crucial decision should be made by the Secretary of State personally.’
The Adams Judgement has led to hundreds of former internees and their family forward making claims against the Secretary of State for unlawful arrest and detention.
We have been instructed by a number of former internees to make claims against the Secretary of State. We have also been instructed by the family members of deceased former internees.
The first necessary step in the claims process is to send a letter of claim to the Crown Solicitor’s Office, who are the legal representatives for the Secretary of State. This letter will seek all relevant documents and information relating to each of our client’s internment including a copy of all legal advices provided to the Secretary of State. The purpose of this is to examine whether or not the correct procedures have been followed in relation to each of our client’s internment.
Our expert human right’s solicitors can then review each client’s papers and advise them whether or not they have a case. Court proceedings can then be issued against the Secretary of Estate for a former internee or their family members to recover compensation for unlawful arrest and detention.
Contact us for an initial enquiry. We will discuss the funding options which are available to our client’s, including Legal Aid, legal expenses cover and private paying.