Northern Ireland news

Prosecutors correctly dealt with requests to disclose alleged role of MI5 agent in case against Palestinian doctor

Dr Issam Bassalat

PROSECUTORS correctly dealt with requests to disclose the alleged role of an MI5 agent in the case against a Palestinian doctor accused of dissident republican terrorist offences, the High Court has ruled.

Senior judges rejected claims of an unlawful failure to hand over any documents relating to Issam Bassalat’s suspected entrapment by Dennis McFadden.

Dr Bassalat (65) is among 10 people charged in connection with a joint PSNI and MI5 operation against the New IRA.

The sting involved bugging two suspected meetings at properties in Co Tyrone in 2020.

Dr Bassalat, with an address at Telford Road in Edinburgh, was subsequently detained at Heathrow Airport.

He is currently on bail charged with preparatory acts of terrorism by allegedly attending and addressing a meeting of the IRA's Executive.

Lawyers for the Scottish-based medic claim he was targeted and manipulated against his will by McFadden.

During an ongoing preliminary inquiry to determine if Dr Bassalat is to stand trial, defence lawyers sought any material held on McFadden for a planned abuse of process application.

A High Court challenge was mounted against the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for allegedly failing to meet its disclosure obligations at the hearing currently before a District Judge.

Counsel for Dr Bassalat claimed there is material to support the case that he was entrapped by a state agent.

She stressed her client maintains his innocence and believes that he had been pursued because of his outspoken advocacy of Palestinian rights.

McFadden allegedly forged a relationship with Dre Bassalat, persuaded him to travel to Belfast in July 2020 and brought him to a meeting near Omagh, Co Tyrone against his will, the court heard.

A barrister representing the PPS argued that the challenge appeared to be an attempt to subvert the normal legal process.

He also set out that MI5’s role is in protecting national security rather than probing suspected offending.

During the case the PPS said it had carefully considered the allegations made by Dr Bassalat, reaching a conclusion that there was no duty to disclose any material at this stage.

“The prosecution neither confirms nor denies whether material specific to the allegation required to be reviewed in order to reach that decision,” it stated.

According to Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan, this response sufficiently dealt with the disclosure issue.

She said: “The PPS has set out the disclosure test applied and dealt with the allegation made by the applicant of alleged state agent involvement.

“The District Judge also satisfied himself as to the disclosure obligations in a detailed ruling in which he applied the law correctly and made an evaluation which is within the margin of discretion afforded to him conducting a committal hearing.

“Absent a clear error of law which we do not discern it is not appropriate for this court to intervene. This court takes the PPS position at face value and on good faith at this stage of proceedings.”

Identifying no procedural unfairness against Dr Bassalat, Dame Siobhan confirmed: “We dismiss the claim for judicial review.”


Northern Ireland news