Eloise smallThe Supreme Court will hear an appeal from the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) (Northern Ireland) concerning the questions of whether the High Court had jurisdiction to grant the appellant bail and direct his release from prison.


The appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder in 1973.  He was released on licence in 1992, but was recalled to prison in 2010 by the Secretary of State, on the basis of intelligence that suggested he was involved in dissident republican activity and posed a serious risk to the public. Part of this material was certificated as confidential under the Parole Commissioners’ Rules (Northern Ireland) 2009, r 9(1). The appellant’s case was referred to the Parole Commissioners for review of the decision to revoke his licence. The review was conducted in private with the assistance of a Special Advocate and the Parole Commissioner refuse to direct the Appellant’s release. The Appellant successfully challenged this decision by way of judicial review. Finding that the decision had been reached solely or to a decisive degree on the basis of closed material in breach of ECHR, art 5(4), the High Court granted the ppellant unconditional bail pending a lawful determination of the issue whether to detain him. The same day the Secretary of State applied for enforcement of that bail order to be stayed on the grounds that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to grant the Appellant bail. The bail order was temporarily stayed and the Court of Appeal heard the issue two days later.

The decision of the Court of Appeal (Northern Ireland)

The court stayed the enforcement of the bail order and ruled that the High Court did not have power to grant bail in the circumstances of the case. The enforcement of the bail order was stayed pending an appeal for the art 5(4) issue, which was heard and allowed in December 2012.

The Appeal to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court comprising of Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Hughes, and Lord Toulson will hear this case on 7th October 2013.