Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

IRA widow denied compensation

IRA mural in Belfast
Compensation was refused because of Mr McCaillon's IRA past

The widow of a former IRA man beaten to death after his prison release has lost an appeal against being denied compensation for his death.

Anne-Marie McCallion was seeking to overturn the secretary of state's decision to refuse her a pay-out.

Her husband, Peter, was jailed for an ambush on troops in Londonderry in 1978. In 1998 he was fatally injured during a confrontation in the city.

The Court of Appeal ruled the secretary of state's decision was lawful.

Mrs McCallion was denied access to the criminal injuries compensation scheme because of the seriousness of her husband's crimes.

He served an 18-year sentence for attempted murder, weapons offences and membership of the IRA.

'Public interest'

Following his release from prison there was no evidence that he maintained any paramilitary links, but in December 1998 he was fatally injured, at the age of 40.

A recommendation that making a payment to his widow under the criminal injuries compensation arrangements would not be in the public interest was accepted by a government minister on behalf of the secretary of state.

Mrs McCallion went before the Court of Appeal after she and her children failed four times to judicially review that decision.

Their case centred on an argument that the refusal breached the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to discrimination or punishment based on a parent's activities.

It had also been contended that the Secretary of State has never properly given reasons for his decision.


Lawyers for Mrs McCallion pointed to a previous ruling which indicated refusal was arguably a breach of the Convention.

Earlier this year, a High Court judge dismissed the case by declaring he was not satisfied that the domestic court can interpret an international treaty.

And his ruling was upheld on Monday by the three-judge panel sitting in the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Girvan stressed that the court could not go behind the minister's conclusion that the convention was not being broken in such a way to show the United Kingdom was acting incompatibly with its treaty obligations.

He said: "A live question arises as to whether a claim by dependent children is entirely dependent on the rights which the deceased would have had but for his supervening death.

"If so, no question of discrimination against the children would arise."

Dismissing the appeal Lord Justice Girvan added: "Furthermore, two very experienced judges in earlier proceedings concluded that there was no apparent breach of Article 2.2 (of the Convention).

"It cannot be suggested that a minister of state taking account of these factors and taking a broader view of the international context was bound to conclude that Article 2.2 would be infringed and that the United Kingdom would be in breach of its international obligations if he decided to refuse ex-gratia compensation.

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