This morning Relatives for Justice, a republican victims group, shared an analysis piece on social media, outlining their view of the ongoing legacy battle in relation to the Loughinisland massacre.
In this analysis the author raises the families’, and PONI, argument of a ‘perception of bias’, and rests this argument upon an Irish Times article published on 6 January 2018.
This article, written by John Ware, raised the fact that Mr Justice McCloskey previously represented the Police Association in a similar case. This, therefore, is the genesis of the ‘public perception’ that the families and Police Ombudsman rely upon.
John Ware was a participant in the ‘No Stone Unturned’ documentary, as was the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire. Therefore the genesis of the public perception of bias stems directly from an article published by an individual closely linked to the ‘No Stone Unturned’ documentary, which many perceive as a collaboration between nationalist legacy solicitors- who are also commercially linked via business to the film makers- the Police Ombudsman and the ‘independent’ documentary researchers, who incidentally work for a sister company of the film makers, who are commercially linked to the families’ solicitor. The families’ solicitor is also a director of Relatives for Justice, who now provide a commentary on the issue of perceived bias.
Do you see the pattern here? The alleged perception of bias was entirely contrived by people who have an interest in derailing the case. They also have an interest in maintaining the credibility of the documentary- in which they all contributed- and which was based largely upon the assertions put forward by the Police Ombudsman in his report, which incidentally Mr Justice McCloskey is about to quash.
Of course this ‘perception’ only arose, following John Ware’s article, at a time that was convenient for those now trying to derail the case. Even within RFJ’s own analysis piece, they accept that the legal representatives of the interested parties knew of Mr Justice McCloskey’s previous role certainly no later than 13 December 2017, which was prior to the judgement.
At no point did they raise the issue, instead they carried on until such times as they realised the case was going against them, at which point suddenly Mr Justice McCloskey’s previous clients from private practice became an issue.
Realising that Mr McGleenan QC would look rather foolish raising a point that he knew about, and chose not to raise any objection to, the Police Ombudsman replaced Mr McGleenan QC with Barra McGrory QC.
Astonishingly for many unionists, Mr McGrory QC proceeded to robustly advance an argument about an ‘unconcious bias’. This was particularly galling for many, especially given the fact Mr McGrory QC had no such concerns about his own previous private career, which included a litany of IRA terrorist clients, when taking up the role as Director of Public Prosecutions.
The agenda behind this last minute intervention is clear. It is to derail the case and save the ‘collusion’ narrative. Therefore it has a very clear political agenda.
And who has pushed this agenda? A solicitor who is a Sinn Fein activist, a journalist who appeared in the documentary and the Police Ombudsman, who is fighting for his credibility. A potent mix.
It is the aforementioned coalition of those with alternative motives that bandied together in order to contrive the public perception of bias. It was entirely created by those hostile to Mr Justice McCloskey’s ruling. It is for this reason that Bernand McCloskey should stand firm and refuse to yield to such a transparent attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary.