Longer online version

6 October 2012

The Court of Appeals granted the police access to the interviews in July; on 1 October US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer granted a temporary stay on the handover.

Ed Moloney defends sources - again

NUJ MEMBERS Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre were in court in Boston, Massachusetts on 24 January in an attempt to to defend their right to protect their sources. The National Executive has voted to support them and London Freelance Branch is looking at ways this can be done.

Ed was Director of The Belfast Project, and Anthony was a researcher involved in its programme of interviews with participants in Northern Ireland's "Troubles". The Project promised those interviewed that the tapes and transcripts would not be released while they live. The tapes were deposited with Boston College - which also holds the equally sensitive archive recording to the decommissioning of weapons in Northern Ireland.

In March 2010 Ed published Voices from the Grave, drawing on the interviews with former IRA (Irish Republican Army) leader Brendan Hughes and David Ervine of the Loyalist UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force), who had both died.

In March 2011 the British government contacted the US Department of Justice, asking it to pursue a court order to hand over the archive - initially under the banner of the Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation into the "disappeared", those presumed killed by the IRA - but rapidly widening in subsequent suboeanas to the College.

In December 2011 Judge William G. Young ruled against both Boston College's Motions to Quash the Subpoenas and Ed and Anthony's motion to intervene in the case. He ordered the College to hand the interviews over to the court. Boston College did not appeal. The 24 January hearing confirmed this, but Ed and Anthony were hopeful of succeeding at appeal.

This is not only a matter of defending journalists' sources. It also raises troubling questions about academic research and archiving ethics.

And it is is not Ed Moloney's first brush with the authorities over documentation of the Troubles. In October 1999 the High Court in Belfast overturned an order which would have required Ed to hand over confidential interview notes.

Last modified: 22 Jan 2012 - © 2012 contributors
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