‘Paid informants in Irish Secret Societies 1886-1910’
- On next Wednesday 17th June 2015 Barry Keane, author of ‘Massacre in West Cork’, will challenge the British Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the United Kingdom Information Commissioners at a tribunal in London to release the contents of a file listed as ‘paid informants in Irish Secret Societies 1886-1910′. The case listed as EA/2015/0013 Keane v HO and ICO and Met will take place in Court 1, 15, Bream Buildings in central London at 10 am and is expected to last all day with both closed and open sessions due to the sensitive occupations of some of the witnesses called by the Metropolitan police.
- Keane found the file in the UK National Archives in 2013. On reading through it he found that more than half of the documents were withheld by the British Home Office. He decided to ask the Home Office to explain why they were being withheld given that all the informants would be dead by now.
- This began a process of appeal and refusal which has resulted in next Wednesdays hearing. The Home Office and Metropolitan Police are arguing that they have an absolute right to retain this information ‘in perpetuity’ to protect the informer system as some people might be put off by having their activities exposed 105 years later. However, as some of the names in the file were not redacted then clearly no such absolute right exists and Keane will be arguing that each informant should be dealt with on a cases by case basis.
- The un-redacted part of the file, for example, confirmed details of payments made to James Carey, who betrayed The Invincibles after they killed Lord Frederick Cavandish and Thomas Burke in the Phoenix Park in 1882, so it is entirely possible that the missing documents will have a significant impact on our knowledge of Irish history.
- The case is likely to set a time limit on the release of documents from British Imperial records and may result in an appeal to the British High Court and Supreme Court by either side.
- Mister Keane will give evidence and is represented by Cork barrister Brian Leahy BL who is providing his services on a pro-bono basis.
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