18/07/2014

OTR Report 'First Step In Rebuilding Justice System'

Justice Minister David Ford has said the findings of a report on the so-called 'On the Run' letters are the first steps in rebuilding confidence in the justice system.

Lady Justice Hallett has completed a review, ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron, on the so-called 'On the Run' letters. It said letters sent to wanted republican terrorist suspects did not amount to an amnesty.

The review follows the collapse of the trial of a man suspected of carrying out the 1982 IRA Hyde Park Bombing. John Downey had received notice that he was not wanted by any UK police force in relation to the bombing, but this has since been declared not to be the case. Lady Justice Hallett said the letter was the result of a "catastrophic mistake" by the PSNI.

David Ford said: "I welcome this thorough examination by Lady Justice Hallett of the so called administrative scheme and, while there are issues to be resolved, believe that the report sets out the first steps that must be taken to restore confidence in the justice system.

"Lady Justice Hallett correctly describes the administrative scheme as 'flawed' and this is what has damaged public confidence in the justice system. I am seeking assurances from the Secretary of State, the Public Prosecution Service and the PSNI that no element of the scheme still exists.

"Lady Justice Hallett has identified a further two letters sent which contained errors originating from the PSNI. The PSNI were participants in a scheme that was not properly thought through. A scheme initiated by Ministers that evolved over time with no overall ownership or accountability and for which Ministers bear responsibility. A scheme that put up barriers to prosecutions, where evidence could have been tested in open court."

(IT/MH)

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