Claims former Prime Minister ‘linked to Hooded Men torture decision’

Some of the Hooded Men with Monsignor Raymond Murray Natasa Mavronicola, a law lecturer at Queen's University and Jim McIlmurray
Some of the Hooded Men with Monsignor Raymond Murray Natasa Mavronicola, a law lecturer at Queen's University and Jim McIlmurray

Former Prime Minister Edward Health was involved in the decision-making process which led to the torture of the ‘Hooded Men’, the High Court has heard

The court, sitting in Belfast, also heard yesterday (Tuesday) that Stormont’s prime minister at the time, Brian Faulkner, was briefed on the torture techniques.

And one of those held said the measures used left him praying for death, the court heard.

It was also claimed that a government minister visited a training exercise for the interrogation methods in 1971.

Controversy still surrounds the Army’s use of what it called “deep interrogation” techniques during the Troubles.

The government is facing a legal challenge from several men, who claim they were tortured by the Army during the conflict, for its failure to fully investigate their case.

Known as the Hooded Men, they were arrested on suspicion of terror offences and imprisoned without trial in August 1971.

In a statement, one of the group recalled collapsing and being punched in the stomach to revive him

Five techniques are said to have been used against the group as part of “deep interrogation”; being hooded and made to stand in a stress position against a wall and beaten if they fell; being forced to listen to constant loud static noise; and being deprived of sleep, food and water.

Barristers representing all but one of the group said the military taught the torture methods to RUC Special Branch officers who sought assurances of immunity from prosecution before carrying them out.

“The allegation in this case is that the decision to sanction that torture was taken by senior ministers,” he said.

Action is being taken against the chief constable, secretary of state and the Department of Justice, over alleged failures to properly probe and order a full inquiry.

In a statement, one of the group recalled collapsing and being punched in the stomach to revive him.

He was against the wall for three days, subjected to kicks or beatings every time he dropped to the ground or fell asleep, the court heard.

“The applicant described suffering hallucinations and prayed for death,” his barrister said.

His treatment was said to have resulted in serious psychiatric and psychological consequences, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The man said that he still wakes in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

“On one occasion he awoke crouched in his wardrobe in a deeply distressed state,” his barrister added.

Two of the men behind the legal challenge were said to have been subjected to the torture methods a month later.

The case continues.