The Supreme Court in London has ruled that police in Northern Ireland were wrong not to investigate allegations that 14 men were tortured by the British Army in 1971.
"The Hooded Men," as they became known, were arrested and tortured for several days and then interned without trial.
The court ruled that a decision by the PSNI not to investigate the allegations was “irrational."
As internment was introduced in August 1971 hundreds of Catholic men were rounded up and imprisoned without trial. Out of that number 14 were subjected to five interrogation techniques over several days: deprivation of sleep; deprivation of food and drink; prolonged standing in stress positions; subjection to noise; and being hooded.
They were also thrown out of helicopters that were hovering just a few feet above the ground after having been told that they were hundreds of feet up in the air.
After the ruling, Francis McGuigan, one of the men, said: “It’s been rough. We’re seven years in and out of court and we seem to win each time we go into court, but we seem to get no further forward.”
SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said there must now be a full independent investigation into allegations of torture.
“There are serious lessons for the PSNI to learn from this judgement,” she said
"Their decision not to launch a full investigation has been criticized by the court and they must ensure that they take this on board and use it to shape their decision making going forward so we don’t see a repeat of this case.”
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald praised the “determination and persistence” of the men.
“For almost 50 years, the Hooded Men have been forced to campaign for truth and justice,” she said.
“It is only through their determination and persistence that the British State has not succeeded in covering up their role in the systematic torture of these men.
“They were arrested, tortured and then held without trial. They have been forced over the decades into courts in Ireland, England and Europe in pursuit of justice. Today must be the last time these men are forced into a court to get the British State to act.”