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BBC NI Chief Security correspondent Brian Rowan:
"The question about the difference between intelligence and evidence in Adair's case remains"
 real 28k

Ulster Democratic Party chairman John White
"Mr Adair was expecting to be freed following the commission's initial decision"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 22:39 GMT
Adair to remain in jail
Johnny Adair
Johnny Adair: NI secretary said he should serve full term
A convicted loyalist paramilitary leader has failed in his attempt to gain freedom from jail in Northern Ireland.

The Sentence Review Commission has ruled that convicted Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) leader Johnny Adair should remain behind bars.

In an eight page ruling, the commissioners changed their previous preliminary decision that Adair, 37, should be freed on licence.

The move has been welcomed by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson, who returned Adair to jail last August during a violent feud between rival loyalist paramilitaries.

The re-arrest in September 2000 - almost a year after Adair was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement - was based on an intelligence report linking Adair to drugs, guns and other paramilitary activity.

The loyalist, from Belfast's Shankill Road, had served five years of a 16-year sentence for directing terrorism.

Peter Mandelson had ordered Adair's re-arrest
He is now being held at Maghaberry prison, near Lisburn in County Antrim.

Mr Mandelson said that having considered all the evidence independently the commissioners had decided that Adair was in breach of the conditions of his licence.

"I will not hesitate again to revoke the licence of any prisoner who, having benefited from the early release arrangements under the Good Friday Agreement, then becomes involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," he said.

'Legal challenge'

However, John White, chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, which is linked to the UFF/UDA, said Adair's legal team would challenge the decision in the courts.

The UDP's John White
The UDP's John White described decision as "grossly unfair"
He said: "I think its grossly unfair that this decision was taken by the Sentence Review Commission."

He said the commission had already said Adair should have been released after making a preliminary assessment of the evidence before them in the hearing in December.

"It's a fundamental right within an judicial process and within a criminal justice system that if allegations are made that people know what they are in order that they can defend themselves. He (Adair) has not been able to do that", he added.

Gerry Kelly: Nationalists concerned about the intentions of loyalist leadership
Gerry Kelly: Nationalists concerned about the intentions of loyalist leadership
Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly welcomed the decision. But he said nationalists had wider concerns.

"The problem is, was, and always will be, much greater than a single issue. By dealing with a single individual I don't think you deal with the issue."

He said nationalists wanted to know what the intentions of the UDA leadership were in relation to their ceasefire.

On 8 December, the commission issued its preliminary decision recommending that Adair should be released on licence.

But this was opposed by Mr Mandelson and the police.

The three commissioners then had to make a "substantive determination" on the issue following a two-day hearing last week at Maghaberry prison.

Police intelligence assessments of Adair's activities while free from jail on licence were outlined to the commissioners. They heard from RUC special branch that he had exerted "considerable military influence within the UDA and UFF".

They also heard submissions from RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan and representatives of the Northern Ireland Office.

Rights commissioner concerned

Meanwhile, the head of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has expressed concern about the manner in which the sentence review was conducted.

Professor Brice Dickson said no-one could argue with the commissioners' decision until they were aware of all of the facts that they had before them.

But he said the decision to exclude Human Rights Commission representatives and Adair's lawyers from some of the proceedings, while confidential security intelligence was presented, went against one of the key principles of the right to a fair trial.

He also said Adair could not address the allegations made about him, while he was unaware of the nature of the evidence held against him.

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See also:

06 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Johnny Adair: Feared loyalist leader
08 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
NIO to challenge Adair release
04 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist's fate known within days
10 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Adair 'to serve remainder of term'
23 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist Adair 'linked to drugs and guns'
08 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Killings attempt to 're-ignite conflict'
09 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Johnny Adair: Notorious loyalist
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