A Co. Antrim councillor who belongs to a group set up to campaign for the release of two men convicted of killing police officer Stephen Carroll believes she may be under security force surveillance.
Anita Cavlan, who is an independent councillor in Ballymoney, says she has been told she may be monitored because of her involvement with the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group.
Her claim comes in the wake of a court hearing earlier this week where the PSNI was accused of trying to “sabotage” the appeals launched by Craigavon men Brendan McConville (41) and John Paul Wootton (21).
Last night Gerry Conlon, who was wrongfully convicted of the IRA Guildford pub bombings, also spoke of his unease amid claims that police named him to a man who was being questioned about the case last week.
The Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group was set up last year to highlight claims of innocence by McConville and Wootton who were convicted of Mr Carroll’s murder last May.The Officer died after being shot in the head by a Continuity IRA sniper as he and his colleagues answered a hoax emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009.
McConville was told he will have to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail while Wootton will serve at least 14 years behind bars.
An appeal hearing into the case was supposed to start on Monday but was adjourned after it emerged that a key defence witness was arrested and held by police for two days last week before being released without charge.
It also emerged that the man is a relative of Witness M who gave evidence against Brendan McConville during last year’s trial.
In a statement given to McConville’s defence team last month he branded Witness M as a “compulsive liar”.
The arrest was made after a surveillance operation, which is understood to have focused on a number of people.
Mr Conlon, who is chairman of the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group, attended this week’s court hearing with Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six.
He said his name was mentioned to Witness M’s relative when he was being questioned by police.
“My name was brought up and while it’s not surprising it is disturbing” he said. “They obviously know my background and they know what I stand for”. “There are times when you praise the police for their investigations into miscarriages of justice, I understand the need for them “. “But I also understand the need for transparency in order to have faith in the institutions”. “its not me that calls the institutions into question, its the institutions themselves.”
Last night Anita Cavlan, who is a former Sinn Fein councillor, claimed she has been told she may have been under surveillance because of her work in the Justice for the Craigavon Two Group. “Everything I am doing is above board and perfectly legal and, as we know from previous incidents, people can be fitted up to try to put them off being involved in justice campaigns,” the independent councillor said. “I am an elected representative and part of a legal justice campaign and we are being snooped on.”
Mr McConville’s solicitor Kevin Winters said he will ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI investigation into matters relating to the new witness.
A Spokesman for the PSNI said “While we can not comment on named individuals, anyone with a complaint about the actions of the police is advised to contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”This article first appeared in the Irish News (no link available).