Retro: 'No torture in Ulster'

DATELINE; JANUARY 1978

Britain was cleared of torturing prisoners in Ulster, even though it had already admitted the offence.

The ruling came from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, after the Irish Government filed a complaint.

It had been widely expected that Britain would be found guilty of the offences after the Government submitted a written statement to the court admitting as much.

Attorney General Sam Silkin said: "It is akin to someone pleading guilty in a court of law and then being overruled."

The court ruled that the treatment of prisoners in Northern Ireland did not meet the definition of torture. It did, however, find the security forces guilty of inhumane and degrading treatment of some prisoners in the autumn of 1977.

Techniques used during interrogation of detainees included oppressive questioning, serious threats, wrist bending, choking and beatings, there were instances of internees being forced to run naked over broken glass and being thrown, tied and hooded, out of helicopters a few feet above the ground.

There were also reports of people being hooded and forced to stand against walls, sometimes for over 20 hours and even for more than 40 and being subjected to continuous noise for up to seven days

THE HEADLINES

Two striking firemen received letter bombs in the post. The bombs were hidden inside hollowed-out diaries. Despite the bombs going off, no-one was hurt and union leaders described them as the work of 'mad dog lunatics'.

Mortgage rates were set to drop... to 8.75 per cent! There had been two previous rate cuts, meaning it took the mortgage rate to its lowest level since August 1973.

A coffee price war broke out between supermarkets with Tesco slashing the price of a 4oz jar of Nescafe to 108p, down 30p.

There was general widespread fear about the spread of the Unification Church, whose members were nicknamed 'Moonies' and were often said by friends and family to have been converted into 'mindless zombies'. The church was founded by Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon in 1954 in Seoul and preached that the Second Coming of Christ had occurred.

TV shows of the day included One Man and His Dog, a half-hour programme about sheepdog trials, holiday programme Wish You Were Here and sit-com Riding Damp, starring Leonard Rossiter.

Films on at the cinema included Second World War caper Where Eagles Dare, The Deep, an underwater adventure starring Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset and The Gauntlet, starring Clint Eastwood, described as a 'wince while you laugh' story about a cop and a prostitute, played by Sondra Locke, with whom Eastwood had a 14-year-relationship starting in 1975.

The controversial Leeds International Swimming Pool was to be demolished and a new sports complex built on the Quarry Hill flats site, according to reports on January 6. The pool, opened in 1967 cost 1.5m and was eventually pulled down in 2010.

There were fears Leeds Parish Church would have to close within three years because of financial difficulties. The Vicar of Leeds, Canon Graham Foley, said the church needed 10,000 a year to survive and was confident the people of Leeds would dip into their pockets to help.

A man sat dead in Leeds Bus Station for at least an hour before anyone noticed. Michael Lyons, 45, died on Saturday January 7. An inquest into his death heard how he may have even been on a bench since the previous night.

Mrs Ann West, mother of Moors murder victim Lesley Ann Downey, presented a 27,000-name petition to the Government urging them not to consider parole for murderer Myra Hindley. West repeated her threat that if Hindley was released, she would kill her.

THE GOSSIP

Charlie's Angels star Farrah Fawcett-Majors hired an extra bodyguard after receiving rape threats in New York. The 29-year-old actress was in the middle of shooting a film, Somebody Killed Her Husband, co-starring Jeff Bridges.

Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious, stabbed himself with a knife at a concert in Memphis, Tennessee. The incident took place during a crowd riot at one of their gigs, according to reports. Vicious allegedly turned up to the gig drunk, then began throwing chairs about, which started the riot, after which he stabbed himself in the arm. Days later, lead singer Johnny Rotten announced the group had split.

THE WORLD

Eighty inmates at a Spanish jail cut their veins in a mass protest in a bid to win pardons. The self-mutilations happened at Modelo Prison, Barcelona.

Russia expelled a second year Hull student on suspicion of spying. Andriy Klymchuk, 22, was held on charges of 'anti-Soviet activity' while on a trip to find his family roots after KGB officers alleged he was carrying coded messages on films. It was initially feared the student at Hull College of Higher Education might face seven year's hard labour but following an appeal by Britain, he was deported.

AND FINALLY

The eyes of Lady Churchill, wife of Second World War Prime Minister Winston, were used in corneal grafts on two patients the day after she died, it was revealed. Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, said Lady Churchill expressly wished her eyes be used as such - she died of a heart attack at her London home on December 12, aged 93.

Cyber crime: ‘We’re all targets’