Torture Retold: How the Hooded Men case has come back under the spotlight

It was January 31st, 1972, the day after Bloody Sunday. The head of the army department in the British Ministry of Defence, John M Parkin wrote to the Chief of Staff, Northern Ireland, Brigadier Marston Tickell, seeking the facts on more than 100 allegations of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment of internees included in Ireland v United Kingdom, the first full-blown inter-state case under the European Convention on Human Rights, lodged a month earlier by the Irish Government before the European Commission on Human Rights.

“Perhaps I should mention that material needs to be presented with complete frankness and that nothing should be withheld. You may of course take it that this is to permit our lawyers to determine the best line of defence and not for reporting to the Commission”, he wrote. His letter was stamped ‘Confidential’.

“We must provide everything possible to the Attorney General in his defence of our cause. The Security Forces will be on international trial, and we must do everything possible to minimise the risk of losing this battle in the propaganda war.”