New judgment: R v McGeough (Northern Ireland)  UKSC 62
21 Wednesday Oct 2015
On appeal from:  NICA 22
McGeough was implicated in the attempted murder of a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. He applied for asylum in Sweden. The application was supported by his account of his life, from which it appeared that he had been an operational member of the IRA and had participated in the attack. His application was dismissed, as was his subsequent appeal against the dismissal. At his trial for attempted murder in the UK, he applied that material relating to his asylum application should not be admitted in evidence, either because it should be excluded under PACE, s 76 as having such an adverse effect on the fairness of the trial that it should not be admitted, or because the admission of the evidence would offend the rule against self-incrimination.
Held: Swedish law does not contain a duty of confidentiality over information supplied in support of an asylum application where that application has been unsuccessful, but favours such applications entering the public domain. The material provided by Sweden was lawfully supplied and the authorities in the UK had a legal obligation to make appropriate use of it if it revealed criminal activity. Whether the material would have been treated differently if it had originated in the UK did not affect the manner in which the trial judge was required to approach his decision under s 76 of PACE. The judge was plainly right to refuse the application. The rule against self-incrimination does not require a prohibition on the use of evidence obtained through a non-compulsive procedure such as an application for asylum.
To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court website (9 Jul 2015 morning session)