A LIMERICK man wrongly imprisoned by the notorious police squad that jailed the Birmingham Six has spoken out about the “nightmare” legal bill he faces to seek justice.
Martin Foran’s 1985 burglary conviction was overturned earlier this year after new evidence showed that police provided tainted evidence against him in court.
But now the disabled 69-year-old, who lives in a Manchester care home, has discovered he cannot claim legal aid to sue the Home Office and the police who deprived him of eight years of his life.
“I fought for justice and for what? For nothing,” Mr Foran told The Irish Post.
“The Home Office and the police have not apologised to me. They have not apologised to my family, and to add insult to everything, I cannot get legal aid to sue them. Where is the justice in this country?”
Describing the “inhuman and degrading” situation where he now has to beg lawyers to take up his case on a no-win-no-fee basis, he said: “My kids have grown up without a father. My wife had to struggle for endless years without a husband but she kept fighting alongside me and so did my children.
“We thought it would all end with the appeal, but now it is like a nightmare starting all over again. I could be dead and buried before they decide to issue me with any compensation.”
Mr Foran says several law firms have turned him away because he cannot get legal aid to continue his campaign for justice.
As a result, the father-of-five faces an estimated bill of up to £100,000 if he cannot find a firm willing to help.
The labourer was jailed for eight years in 1985 for two counts of robbery after being investigated by the now defunct West Midlands Serious Crime Squad.
In 1993, an inquiry found that the Serious Crime Squad had been involved in malpractice, including “physical abuse of prisoners, fabrication of admissions, planting of evidence and mishandling of informants”.
Investigations by the disgraced force led to scores of “unsafe” convictions, including those of the Birmingham Six for the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.
Mr Foran always maintained his innocence and claimed police fabricated confession evidence, concocted false documentation and concealed information vital to his defence.
But his conviction was not quashed until April this year.
New evidence meant the testimony of chief police witness Detective Inspector Paul Matthews, who interviewed Mr Foran, was “called into serious question,” the appeal court judge said.
“If it had happened to an Englishman living in Ireland there would be uproar,” Mr Foran said. “But because of the atmosphere there was towards the Irish in the West Midlands at the time, if you were Irish, nobody believed you.”
He added: “It was like a living hell being an Irish person in a British prison. I was treated like the dirt on their boot because I was Irish.
“We had to fight for everything, not just me alone, also the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. But because I was one person, nobody heard my cries.”
Mr Foran was released in 1995 after his sentence was extended after he took a prison officer hostage to force medical staff to treat him.
He is also hoping to win an appeal court hearing for another robbery conviction, in 1977, which saw him jailed for 10 years, of which he served seven.