Northern Ireland

Details of Tony Taylor parole process revealed

Derry republican Tony Taylor has revealed details of his detention for the first time
Derry republican Tony Taylor has revealed details of his detention for the first time

A Derry republican whose early release licence was revoked has for the first time revealed details of his case.

Tony Taylor spoke out last night after an expected Parole Commission for Northern Ireland hearing, which could have resulted in his release, was delayed.

Taylor was detained in March 2016 after his early release licence was revoked by then secretary of state Theresa Villiers.

He was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 1994 for IRA activity and again for three years in 2011 for possession of a rifle.

He has not been charged with any subsequent offence or faced a trial.

Speaking to the Irish News, Taylor says he endorses a ceasefire recently called by Óglaigh na hÉireann.

In June last year parole commissioners refused to release him from prison after a hearing.

For the first time Taylor has revealed details about that process, which up until now has been shrouded in mystery.

He claims that he was detained after five allegations were made against him by the British intelligence agency MI5.

Of the five claims made, four were not accepted by a panel of commissioners.

However, he says that of the fifth allegation there was a belief “on balance of probabilities” that he was guilty.

Neither he nor his legal team have been given details of the allegation.

He also revealed that during last year’s hearing that an MI5 officer remained screened from his legal team and declined to answer some questions until the commission went into a closed hearing.

It is understood Taylor participated in the open hearing despite not being required to do so.

He says that a special advocate represented him in the closed hearing.

However, the special advocate was not allowed to reveal any details of what happened to either him or his legal team.

The Derry republican also claims that several observers, including political representatives, were allowed to attend the open hearings were ordered not to take notes or discuss what was said.

Taylor says he was told a fresh parole hearing would be held this month but this has now been shelved and may not take place until the Autumn.

He called for support for his campaign and urged those “who claim to defend and demand democracy and justice” to publicly call “for my immediate release or day in court”.

“There is no more need for silence as we now have transparency,” he said.

His solicitor Aiden Carlin said his “instructions are that the Secretary of State appears to be delaying the proceedings”.

“Tony Taylor was not returned to prison by a judge,” he said.

“In fact, the Public Prosecution Service considered a file submitted by police two years ago following his arrest and concluded that Tony Taylor is to face no new charges. "

A spokesman for the NIO said: “"The law states it is for the independent Parole Commissioners to set a timetable for case reviews, not the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

"All Parole Commissioner cases must comply with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees a right to a fair trial.”

He said that “the law also states of the Parole Commissioners Rule that information about proceedings or people involved in them should not be made public”.

A spokeswoman for the Parole Commission said it was unable to comment as its cases are confidential.