Belfast Project: Boston College Returns The Remaining Tapes

Boston College has said that it will return the Belfast Project interview tapes to any interviewee who requests them, and that it will not keep copies of the tapes or transcripts that it returns. This is highly sensible. No doubt BC regrets its involvement in the whole affair and will be happy finally to wash its hands of it.

There is one aspect of this latest move that merits comment. Anthony McIntyre, who conducted many of the interviews and who, it turns out, was himself interviewed for the project, complains that BC should have returned the tapes earlier, perhaps even while the subpoenas were pending:

Boston College’s decision to offer to return the interviews to the people who donated them is something the institution could and should have done when urged by myself and Ed Moloney to take action of this type or something similar once it was clear that the college was in possession of an endangered archive. Instead Boston College denied the right of return for material not subject to subpoena. Its wilful refusal to take such measures led to a number of interviews subsequently being handed over to the British police by the college in the wake of a second subpoena.

I’ve previously noted that of course BC couldn’t send the tapes overseas while a subpoena was pending. On this point, I think McIntyre’s criticism is not well-founded.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

One thought on “Belfast Project: Boston College Returns The Remaining Tapes

  1. Not gonna happen. Remember that the police are trying to make the tape for Interviewee Z stick to Ivor Bell — Boston College never got a key to interviewee identities, and is missing some collection contracts that could also connect interviews to interviewees. So to get their interviews back, at least some of the interviewees would have to step forward and identify themselves, connecting their identities to a collection that has been subpoenaed by the police. “Yes, hi, that collection of felony confessions is mine.” Would you take that step if your were an interviewee and had openly discussed your involvement in illegal organizations and activities in an archived collection that had previously been subpoenaed? They should haul it all out into the parking lot and light it on fire.

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