12 August 1999 Edition
DPP decision sparks anger
RUC let off again by British system
Eamann McMenamin, the solicitor of Republican prisoner Davy Adams, has called on the Six-County office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to clarify its decision not to prosecute any members of the RUC over a vicious assault on the 40-year-old cousin of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
He said he also intends to see if the newly-established Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission can examine the case. In the Belfast High Court in February last year, Adams, from West Belfast, was awarded £30,000 - the highest payment ever - in exemplary damages against the RUC.
The DPP's decision was greeted with ``anger and disbelief'' by Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey, who said it ``relegated nationalists to second-class citizenship''.
Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) legal officer Paul Mageean described the DPP decision as ``incomprehensible''.
Adams was seriously injured following his arrest by the RUC in Belmont Avenue in East Belfast in February 1994. He was eventually charged and sentenced to 25 years in jail for conspiracy to kill an RUC member.
The beating the RUC meted out to Adams left him in hospital for three weeks. He suffered a broken leg, two fractured ribs, a punctured lung and multiple cuts after his arrest and while in RUC custody at Castlereagh. There, RUC men jumped repeatedly on his leg, which was propped up, to deliberately break it.
In 1998, the case went to the High Court where Judge Kerr said the medical evidence led him to discount police explanations for the injuries. He also accepted the evidence of a young couple at the scene of the arrest who heard police shout ``fenian bastard'' and ``I hope he chokes on his own blood''.
The successful civil and public concern over the case forced RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan to order an investigation. It was carried out by ``independent investigators'' brought in from outside the Six Counties. Strathclyde assistant chief constable Jim Orr carried out the investigation.
McMenamin, of solicitors Madden and Finucane, said he ``failed to understand'' why the DPP would not prosecute. ``The civil judgement of Judge Kerr is in the public forum and a bald statement of `no prosecution' from the DPP will not allay public concern and only goes to reinforce distrust in the criminal justice system.
``In 1998, I was involved in 96 cases where complaints were made against the RUC where my clients were awarded a total of £202,596.66 in compensation.
``I am not aware of any criminal convictions or disciplinary actions arising out of those court awards or settlements.''
The CAJ's Paul Mageean said there was a crisis of confidence in the complaints system because no one is ever held to account.
Over the 1995-96 period, eight complaints against the RUC were upheld out of a total of 640 claims. In 1996-1997 it was five out of 860. In 1997-1998 it was one out of a total of 5,500 complaints and in 1998-1999 it was five out of 5,293 complaints.
Feb 1994: Davy Adams arrested and badly beaten by RUC men.
Feb 1998: Adams awarded £30,000 in damages against the RUC - the highest ever made.
April 1999: Procedural change takes compensation claims against RUC out of the hands of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland.
Aug 1999: DPP decision not to recommend prosecution of RUC men involved in Adams' beating.
Aug 1999: Adams' solicitor asks Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to examine the case.
1999: Criminal Justice Review, Patten Commission on Policing and Working Party on Complaints Practices due to report later this year.