AL RIESAME AZIONE LEGALE CONTRO LE STRIP SEARCHES
A legal challenge over strip searches in Northern Ireland’s prisons must be re-examined, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Senior judges remitted former inmate Brendan Conway’s judicial review application for a new assessment of factual issues in his case.
Mr Conway, from Belfast, is currently out on bail awaiting trial in connection with an alleged tiger kidnapping in 2008.
He lodged proceedings at the High Court over two searches he was subjected to while on remand at Maghaberry Prison in 2010.
His challenge centred on the policy of routine full-body searches on inmates entering and leaving the prison.
Lawyers for Mr Conway claimed rules are being breached by the use of force on prisoners who neither give their consent nor resist.
A judge dismissed his application for judicial review after holding that the policy was lawful.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal decided that his case should be assessed again to see whether an inflexible approach was taken by prison authorities.
Lord Justice Girvan concluded that the relevant rule “is not aptly drawn to cover the situation of a prisoner simply exiting and returning to prison at a point subsequent to his initial committal to prison.”
Although no decision was reached on the legality of the policy, the judge said it was considered in “abstract and general terms” without proper focus on the actual facts behind the application.
With the case sent back to the lower court for another hearing, Mr Conway’s solicitor, Paul Pierce of Kevin R Winters and Co, stressed the need for clarity.
He said: “We are disappointed that this matter has to be referred back to the original trial judge.
“Clearly, however, we look forward to the opportunity to address some of these arguments again so that these issues can be clarified and comprehensively dealt with.”