My commute today. Credit: Star

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Winston “Winkie” Rae’s challenge to the PSNI’s effort to obtain his Belfast Project interviews has failed. I reported on Rae’s case late last month.

The Telegraph article makes a few points clear that previously were unclear. I had thought that Rae had obtained an injunction from the Belfast court by persuading it that he had a likelihood of success on the merits (or whatever the equivalent British concept is for obtaining preliminary injunctive relief). It turns out that the government has consented to the injunction while Rae’s claim proceeded. Another article in the same paper also gives our first look at government’s reasons for seeking Rae’s tapes. Here is what Rae, apparently quoting from the governement’s briefs, had to say:

“They list that I met John Major in 1996 during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations which infers that I must be a senior member of an illegal organisation.

“That I was the bodyguard of my late father-in-law Gusty Spence, that I was responsible for a spate of robberies of debt collectors in north Down.

“They also refer to two murders and an attempted murder which I totally refute as well as the other allegations. Three allegations of directing terrorism … and three allegations of membership.”

Rea added that a newspaper interview he have about the Boston College project was used to claim he had inferred that he wanted his tapes back because there was something in them.

The judge gave strong views on the merits of Rae’s case:

Mr Justice Treacy threw out his challenge after holding that the test for seeking the material had been met.

He said it was “manifest” from the terms of the request that a police investigation was underway.

“The request was plainly lawful,” the judge said.

“There is no credible contention that the applicant’s rights (under the European Convention on Human Rights) are infringed.”

Meanwhile, Ed Moloney has opined that “the move against Winston Rea was nothing more than a cynical attempt to balance the pursuit of Republican interviews allegedly concerning the disappearing of Jean McConville with some Loyalist interviews.” I suppose that could be right, though it will be small consolation to Rae if, in fact, his interview is incriminating.