Father Patrick Fell (born 1940) is a Roman Catholic priest who was convicted in the 1970s of being a commander of a IRA active service unit. In June 1984 he was successful in his action to find the British Government guilty of violating the European Convention on Human Rights. The Government had denied the right of legal representation to prisoners facing internal prison disciplinary charges.[1][2]

Fell was born in England and was a convert to Catholicism before joining the Priesthood.[3] He was assistant priest at All Souls Church, Earlsdon, Coventry. [4] Fell never admitted IRA membership.

In April 1973, Fell was arrested with six others alleged to comprise an IRA unit planning a campaign in Coventry. He was tried at Birmingham Crown Court. The jury found three of the seven not guilty; the remaining four were all found guilty of criminal damage and conspiracy to commit arson. Fell and Frank Stagg, were found to be the unit’s commanding officers; Stagg was given a ten-year sentence and Fell twelve years. Thomas Gerald Rush was given seven years and Anthony Roland Lynch, who was also found guilty of possessing articles with intent to destroy property, namely nitric acid, balloons, wax and sodium chlorate, was given ten years.[5][6]


Fell was eventually sent to the top security Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight. It was here that, following an incident, he was one of six republican prisoners charged with various offences including mutiny, incitement to mutiny and violence. Fell and the others were involved in a sitting down protest against the treatment of another prisoner.[7] As a result of attempts to break up the protest, both prisoners and prison warders received personal injuries. Fell was punished by the Prison's Board of Visitors and given 91 days solitary confinement and 570 days loss of remission.[8]

Fell's action was based on Articles 6 8, and 13 of the Convention.

On his release Fell served as a parish priest in rural Donegal.[9]


  1. IRA men win...; The Times; 29 Jun 1984; pg2 col B
  2. Campbell and Fell v. United Kingdom (28 June 1984) (appl. n. 7819/77; 7878/77)
  3. Priest says he...;The Times; 19 Oct 1973; pg4 col F
  4. Discretion allowed in...; The Times; 7 Mar 1984; pg4 col A
  5. Man's denial on chemicals; The Times; 25 Oct 1973; pg2 Col F
  6. Priest who 'raised...; The Times; 2 Nov 1973; pg1 col E
  7. Legislationonline.
  8. Jailed priest's complaints...;The Times; 24 Apr 1981; pg2 col B
  9. Three more IRA...; Guardian Unlimited 22 Dec 2002

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