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McGee v United Kingdom

12 June 2000
The issues

Article 6 – The Right To A Fair Trial – Right to Legal Assistance

The facts

The Applicant had been arrested in connection with attempted bomb attack. Access to a solicitor was delayed under Section 15 of the Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Act 1987. He was seen 5 times that day by the police and 3 further interviews were conducted the next day. He had effectively been kept incommunicado and questioned by rotating teams of officers for over 48 hours. The interviews were “intense”. At the sixth interview he had made admissions. He did not give evidence at trial and was convicted by a Judge sitting alone. No adverse inferences were drawn as to his failure to testify.

The Applicant submitted that there had been a breach of Article 6 because of the denial of the right to legal assistance and a breach of Article 14 as he was discriminated against compared to other detainees of the United Kingdom not subject to 1987 Acts.

The decision

1. A breach of Article 6 in that there had not been a fair trial because the applicant had been denied access to legal advice.

2. There had been no discrimination as the Applicant’s treatment as compared to treatment of other citizens of the United Kingdom could be explained in terms of geographical location and not personal characteristics.

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