Michael’s appeal against his conviction took place in Dublin’s Court of Criminal Appeal in November 2005. It lasted four days. The prosecutors opening comments to the court was to remind them that International agreements could be affected if Michael McKevitt was freed. The judges came back four weeks later and took approximately 60 seconds to deliver their judgment. They upheld that Rupert was a credible witness! The Mc Kevitt family were outraged; particularly when on reading the judgement in full they discovered that it contained numerous factual errors. In one example quoting from the original trial judgement, the appeal court refers to “details of further meetings between David Rupert and the appellant, in one of which there was a discussion about the raiding of a training camp in Donegal.”
There are two vital errors contained in the above quote. Firstly, the meeting referred to where the so called discussion took place, is the very same meeting that was proven during the trial that Michael could not have attended as he was logged by the Gardai sitting in the front room of his home.
The appeal court acknowledged this insofar as:
Mr. Rupert himself in evidence, both in direct examination and cross-examination, stated that he could not recall if the appellant was at the Greenore meeting (day 5-p.48 and day 20-p.14). In his proposed statement of evidence he did not give a date for the Greenore meeting. In the course of his evidence he referred to the difficulty he had in dealing accurately with some of his dates because of the large amount of reporting of intelligence which he had done. In addition to the evidence given at trial by David Rupert, the defence were also in possession of the contemporaneous e-mail dated 17 February 2000 which reported the Greenore meeting to his handlers but which specifically stated that the appellant did not attend this particular meeting.
The appeal court however, overlooked the fact that the email quoted contained the details of the training camps discussion. Therefore, if it is accepted by all that Michael was not at the meeting then how could he have had the discussion about the camps? Remember it was the content of this discussion that was used by the court to enforce the charge of directing. The court referred to the email as “contemporaneous” yet failed to acknowledge that during the trial the authenticity of the emails were challenged by the defence. What’s more, the court also overlooked the fact that Rupert had stated in evidence and in the same ‘contemporaneous’ email that Stephen, Michael’s son had collected him from the McKevitt home and dropped him off at the meeting house. Yet the Garda surveillance log offered evidence to contradict Rupert once again. It reported a sighting of Stephen miles away from the location of the meeting alone in his car at the specific time Rupert claimed he was with him! In addition, the Gardai surveillance log as stated previously recorded Michael in the front room of his home yet does not record Rupert either entering or leaving the McKevitt home as he had claimed.
Secondly, Donegal was never mentioned as the location of the training camp in any of the trial court transcripts, judgement, witness statements or disclosure documents submitted to the defence. This information was added by the Appeal Court!
In another example, the appeal court judgement states “He (Rupert) was again back in Ireland in August 1992, this time with Linda Vaughan, who became his second wife,..” Once again this is factually inaccurate, at no time throughout the original trial or in any of the documents related to the case was it asserted that Rupert was married to Linda Vaughan. In fact he had only gone out with the lady for a short time and was in fact with someone else in 1992. There are numerous other such mistakes contained within the appeal judgement which begs the question how credible is the actual judgement if it is based on such inaccuracies.
The next stage of this process will take place in the Supreme Court Dublin in late 2006. Michael’s family view the Irish process with much scepticism. They feel that to date his incarceration is based purely on political grounds and that he will not receive justice until his case goes before the European Court of Human Rights.
© 2006 Marcella Sands.
Author’s note: Since completion of the above account of the framing of Michael McKevitt the following information has come to the attention of the author.
In the run-up to the trial of three Irish students in the Old Bailey, London, May 1999, the British Anti-terrorist Branch presented lip-reading transcript evidence against Tony Hyland, Liam Grogan and Darren Mulholland, who were accused of conspiring to cause explosions in Central London in July 1998.
The background to the lip-reading transcript is as follows: While in London in July 1998, Liam Grogan, Darren Mulholland and Tony Hyland were placed under 24-hour surveillance by the relevant British authorities. Prior to their arrest, Liam Grogan and Tony Hyland were, on two separate occasions, filmed by the Anti-terrorist Branch from a discreet distance while having a conversation on a park bench in Acton Green in West London.
The two video tapes (approximately 55 minutes in total) were then sent to a lip-reading ‘expert’, Jessica Rees. Ms Rees claimed to have outstanding qualifications and a unique ability to lip-read.
The Crown Prosecution Service and Anti-terrorist Branch engaged Ms Rees to produce a lip-reading transcript of the surveillance video recording. Ms Rees’s final transcript which incidentally was compiled post the Omagh bomb, contained numerous references to an alleged plot to bomb Omagh (which subsequently occurred three weeks after the three Irish students were arrested) and a couple of references to “McKevitt” throughout the transcript.
From the outset the three students vehemently rejected the authenticity, accuracy and validity of the Rees transcript and questioned her ability as a lip-reader.
Gareth Pierce, the three men’s defence solicitor, demanded that the Crown Prosecution Service and the Anti-terrorist Branch undertake a controlled experiment whereby two actors would be recorded from a distance but with concealed microphones which would record their actual conversation. The video tapes would then be sent to Ms Rees and her transcript could be compared to the actual content of the actor’s recorded conversation.
Both the prosecution and defence counsel in this trial agreed it was the fairest means to assess the veracity, accuracy and credibility of Ms Rees’s work.
In the final analysis Ms Rees correctly lip-read less than three per cent of the words spoken by the actors during the controlled experiment and she failed to successfully identify any of the topics which they had discussed.
When faced with these appalling results the Crown Prosecution Service and the Anti-terrorist Branch decided to refrain from presenting Ms Rees’s original lip-reading transcripts as evidence before the courts. Justice Klevin accepted and acknowledged this decision.
Furthermore, last year (2005), the BBC current affairs programme Newsnight investigated all of the previous work carried out by Jessica Rees. Gareth Pierce was interviewed by the Newsnight investigating team. Newsnight exposed Ms Rees’s lack of qualifications to lip-read and numerous inaccuracies in her work. Consequently, the Newsnight investigative report resulted in every conviction which relied upon her evidence to prosecute being re-opened and re-examined.
The transcript concocted by the Anti-terrorist Branch-sponsored lip-reading charlatan, Jessica Rees, is yet another example of an underhanded attempt by the British state to indirectly connect Michael McKevitt with the tragic events in Omagh on August 15 1998.
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign