Northern Ireland

PSNI review of Hooded Men branded 'cynical exercise'

Hooded Men Jim Auld and Liam Shannon talk. Picture by Hugh Russell
Hooded Men Jim Auld and Liam Shannon talk. Picture by Hugh Russell

Two of the group known as the Hooded Men have said a decision by the PSNI to review their treatment more than 50 years ago is a "cynical exercise" designed to run down the clock.

Jim Auld and Liam Shannon believe their case should be the focus of a full investigation rather than the promised review.

The PSNI has recently requested a meeting with members of the Hooded Men to discuss the review.

Mr Auld and Mr Shannon are among a group of 14 Catholic men subjected to what many regard as state-sanctioned torture when they were held without charge during internment  in 1971.

'Five techniques' used on the men included being hooded, made to stand in stress positions, forced to listen to loud static noise and being deprived of sleep, food and water.

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In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the methods used "would be characterised today" as torture.

It also concluded that the PSNI was wrong not to investigate allegations of torture in the case.

Mr Shannon is currently involved in a legal challenge to force the PSNI to investigate the Hooded Men's case.

Plans by the PSNI to review the case emerged after the force apologised for their treatment more than 50 years ago.

Mr Auld has now voiced concern that the PSNI may be playing for time to ensure the Hooded Men case is swept up by the British government's controversial Legacy Bill, which will effectively end Troubles investigations.

"I think it's a cynical exercise by the PSNI to run the thing down so it fits in with the legacy legislation that is coming through," he said.

"I don't think that it is anything other than that."

While the PSNI has requested to meet Mr Shannon and Mr Auld before a judicial review hearing next month, neither has agreed.

Solicitor Kevin Winters
Solicitor Kevin Winters

Mr Auld said: " If they can convince me that their time frame for working through this will ensure that it doesn't fall into the legacy legislation, then I would be willing to take part in it, but I will need reassured that is the case.

"It's the only way I would be willing to take part in it."

Mr Shannon said both men were "initially very sceptical about meeting the PSNI".

"We have yet to be convinced that meeting would be in our interests given their attitude up to now and the way they have kicked the can down the road in every court appearance that there has been.

Mr Shannon added that he and Mr Auld "want a proper investigation".

The men's solicitor, Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, has written to the PSNI seeking further information.

"Respectfully, what is happening now should have happened many years ago and we have a deep concern that all of this is being choreographed to run down the clock on the Legacy Bill," he said.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: "Whilst the government continues its scrutiny of the proposed legislation, the police service will continue to discharge its legacy related investigative casework in accordance with our current statutory obligations and in response to relevant judicial directions."