Red Hand Commando boss Winston 'Winky' Irvine loses legal battle over Boston tapes interview

Red Hand Commando boss Winston ‘Winky’ Irvine loses legal battle over Boston tapes interview

A LEADING loyalist has lost a legal bid to stop the PSNI getting tapes of interviews he gave.

Winston Churchill Rea – or ‘Winky’ Rea to his loyalist friends – was one of dozens of former paramilitaries who provided testimonies to Boston College’s Belfast Project.

Mr Justice Treacy was told the police needed the tapes of Mr Rea’s interviews in order to meet a legal duty to probe serious crimes spanning three decades.

Detectives want to see what he said about the murder of his relative Frankie Curry on St Patrick’s Day 1999.

Mr Rea had issued proceedings to try to stop the PSNI obtaining the material.

However, on Monday a judge said the police were entitled to seek the tapes as part of an extensive investigation into terrorism.

Mr Rea’s legal team is considering taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

The Boston College interviews were given on the understanding that tapes would not be made public until after the deaths of the interviewees.

But, in 2013 detectives investigating the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville secured transcripts of former IRA woman Dolours Price’s account.

That material was handed over following court battles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Rea, a former loyalist prisoner, had sought to judicially review the Public Prosecution Service’s (PPS) attempts to obtain his interviews.

Today’s decision could open the floodgate for more tapes to be handed over to the PSNI’s cold case unit.

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