Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Hyde Park bombing suspect will not be prosecuted

Tue 25 February 2014, 8:49pm

The BBC are reporting that John Downey who was arrested and charged with killing four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing will not be prosecuted because he was given a guarantee he would not face trial.

Downey was arrested in 2013 at Gatwick whilst en route to Greece.

From the BBC:

..over the course of legal argument, he asked the Old Bailey to halt the prosecution – saying he had received a clear written assurance from the government that he would not be tried.
He cited an official letter he had received in 2007 saying: “There are no warrants in existence, nor are you wanted in Northern Ireland for arrest, questioning or charging by police. The Police Service of Northern Ireland are not aware of any interest in you by any other police force.”
He said his alleged offences had been categorised as one of the “on-the-run” cases that would no longer be pursued in the light of progress in the peace process.
In his judgement halting the case, Mr Justice Sweeney said Mr Downey had received an assurance in 2007 that he would not face criminal charges, despite the fact that police in Northern Ireland knew he was still wanted by Scotland Yard.

The Crown Prosecution Service had argued that the assurance was given in error – but the judge said it amounted to a “catastrophic failure” that misled the defendant. A trial would therefore be an abuse of executive power.

Unsurprisingly the decision was welcomed by Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy but castigated by Tom Elliott and Peter Robinson. The most interesting response, however, came from Peter Hain:

“I was astonished to hear that this prosecution had been launched in the first place, because he had received a letter from the Northern Ireland Office after painstaking investigations into whether the evidence still existed to prosecute him as a suspect for this crime and he received a letter saying he was in the clear.
“This was a critical part of the peace deal that has brought Northern Ireland from horror and evil to peace and hope and the idea that it could be unravelled in his case was astonishing to me.”

Tom Elliott’s response was that it was an “appalling indictment of Peter Hain and the past Labour government in their behind-the-scenes dealings”.

Gradually some of the side deals agreed by the last government are coming out. This from the government which changed the law to allow prosecution of Nazi war criminals from many years before; proclaimed its “ethical foreign policy” and whose leader described himself as a “pretty straight sort of guy.” It leaves one wondering what other side deals and assurances were offered, who knew what and when and especially if any unionists knew anything of these deals. Finally: if the public had known of these sorts of deals with both the Belfast and St. Andrews Agreements would we have agreed to the deal in the first place.

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Comments (89)

  1. I suspect most people will not be surprised.
    Unionist opponents of the Good Friday Agreement always suspected there was a “deal”,
    Now that they are actually sharing power with SF….what will they do?
    Walk away?
    last night I heard leading journo Malachi O’Doherty say that he had changed his mind about the Agreement. He would now vote NO.
    I certainly feel the same. I would now vote NO.
    The half truths, nods and winks of 1998 were arguably for the Common Good…but whether because of principle or the way the GFA has unravelled or its out working, I suspect many have had a re-think.

    Its a nettle nobody wants to grasp.
    A Referendum on a border poll is of less relevance than a referendum on the GFA 16 years on.
    We got it wrong.
    There are too many compromises.
    No point in just blaming the voters who put these rope in power.
    Focus on the Collaborators in the media, business, academia etc who keep them in power…and benefit.

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  2. Agree, fitzjameshorse1745. With any negotiations such as these, there are always secret side deals.
    I recollect that at the St.Andrews negotiations a youngish member of the DUP team spent a lot of time (reportedly) trying to get such a side deal which might benefit someone he “knew of”.

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  3. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    I find it hard to understand how it is even lawful for the NIO to write a letter that says someone will not be prosecuted.

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  4. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Danny Kinahan is someone I like among the UUP MLAs. He seems a decent person. It turns out he was best friends of one of the people who died. I wonder if that is what inspired Danny to go into politics some years later.

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  5. megatron (profile) says:

    I think a much more comprehensive approach to this issue should have been taken. I also think it should have been explicitly negotiated at GFA. Obviously neither of those things happened. I still don’t think he should have been prosecuted though.

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  6. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Danny Kinahan did a very good interview on BBC News Channel. He said:

    *He and his party did not know about this side-deal
    *It was a side deal between SF and NIO
    *It was completely outside of and different from what was agreed in the GFA.

    The SDLP stopped the legislation on the On the Runs going through Westminster. This also would have let the state forces off.

    It seems that this secret side deal was done between SF and NIO and circumvented the democratic process.

    Shame on the NIO.

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  7. Reader (profile) says:

    Charles_Gould: It seems that this secret side deal was done between SF and NIO and circumvented the democratic process.
    And it would also make you wonder if Blair and Hain also bought off the PUP and UDP with more than just money.

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  8. Dec (profile) says:

    Just to be clear, the people wringing their hands at this decision are the same people who vehemently oppose British soldiers being charged with murder regarding Bloody Sunday. Go figure.

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  9. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    ” British soldiers being charged with murder”

    Presumably part of the SF-NIO deal is that they wouldn’t.

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  10. megatron (profile) says:

    Dec – to some extent that works in the other direction too though.

    Personally i believe nobody on any side (at foot soldier level anyway) should be prosectuted for anything pre 1998..

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  11. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “This was a critical part of the peace deal that has brought Northern Ireland from horror and evil to peace and hope and the idea that it could be unravelled in his case was astonishing to me.”

    What power had Parliament given Hain to usurp the courts and conspire to pervert the course of justice?

    What other deals were done?

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  12. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    This shows how wicked the NIO were.

    The SDLP voted against the On the Run legislation in Westminster. It failed – and SDLP claimed to have had a role in stopping it. It would have let state forces as well as IRA people off the hook.

    It now turns out that, instead of using democratic processes, the Permanent Secretary of the NIO decided to do a dirty deal with SF. Behind the backs of elected politicians.

    Wicked. Immoral. Perfidious. NIO-SF deal.

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  13. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    The only good thing is that the families of the murdered now know who the name and face of the mass killer. He’ll have to look over his shoulder the rest of his life thinking that (some form of) justice will catch up with him.

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  14. sherdy (profile) says:

    If the PSNI informed Westminster in writing that Mr Downey was not a person of interest in any criminal investigations where was the harm in Blair saying that they did not intend to prosecute him – according to the PSNI he was an innocent man.
    DUP and UUP are now complaining of this side deal between Sinn Fein and Westminster while they were doing their own side deals. Is their complaint that Sinn Fein were better negotiators?

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  15. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    This blog item serves as a reminder of Mark Durkan’s leadership on this exact issue:

    http://elblogador.blogspot.co.uk/2006/01/sdlp-demand-otrs.html

    It turns out that the legislation that Mark Durkan was complaining about was never passed. In part due to SDLP campaigning

    It seems that the Blair Government decided it could act in a secret, wicked way that bypassed elected politicians. Shame on them.

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  16. Reader (profile) says:

    sherdy – this also has implications for the HET. If the HET can investigate anything and anyone, but some prosecutions are secretly blocked, it sort of suggests that some past criticism of the HET has been unfair, and also makes one wonder if the Terms Of Reference for the HET are honest.
    Secondly, if Blair and Hain were willing to lie to some parties and make secret deals with others, while pretending to put the full deal before the electorate; it says a great deal more about Blair and Hain than about the skills of the parties sitting round the table. As I have suggested above, in a couple of days you might find yourself having also inadvertently praised the PUP and UDP.

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  17. megatron (profile) says:

    Charles – Blair government was made up of elected politicians.

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  18. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    I followed David Fords lead to hold my nose and vote for th GFA. My misgivings were related to moral ambiguities in the agreement and what were we to tell our children about the consequences of wrongdoing?

    Despite how things have worked out unlike FJH et al I would vote for the GFA today because all in all we are in a better place and the same numbers are not being killed. .

    Re OTRs: having some agreement whereby IRA people can return To Ni is consistent with letting convicted political prisoners out of jail after serving 2 years. My understanding is that this was not an amnesty as they would still have an official record of their misdeeds. Plus that it would apply to soldiers and RUC seems consistent too.

    What is a big no no for me are underhand side deals such as today’s case illustrates. Has the NIO,the PM or SOS the authority to do so? If DUP etc genuinely didn’t know , the ball is in their court to question this through th courts.

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  19. Dec (profile) says:

    Megaton

    I tend to agree ( though I feel the relatives of ALL victims should know the names of the culprits where and however possible) but the selective outrage is tiresome.

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  20. ThomasPaine (profile) says:

    Perfect story for unionist electioneering. Exactly what they wanted. Watch them exploit it mercilessly while conveniently forgetting that they all knew (as did anyone with an iota of intelligence) that these back door deals were taking place, and that the NIO had agreements in place with loyalist bombers as well as republican bombers.

    Gerry Kelly is doing something similar, although less conspicuously.

    The hate will be whipped up, the division in society will be deeper than ever and the DUP and SF will laugh all the way to the bank.

    By the way, if anyone thinks that these deals didn’t have to be made they are only fooling themselves. This was a large part of the price that had to be paid for scaling down the conflict on a gargantuan scale. Imagine how many more deaths there would have been in the intervening years had no agreement been reached.

    The good guys won the war by virtually ending it. They achieved this by carrying out morally questionable acts. No amount of faux outrage will change this.

    But since the war was virtually ended, the peace is steadily being lost.

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  21. socaire (profile) says:

    Charles, remind me again whose government the lackeys of the SDLP swore allegiance to. You can’t run with the hare and do evil wicked deeds with the hounds. LOL

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  22. Barney (profile) says:

    Bluejazz Wrote
    “The only good thing is that the families of the murdered now know who the name and face of the mass killer.”

    I remember having my post censored for typing something that a moderator didn’t like it was libellous I was told.

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  23. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    The legitimacy of the GFA is now in question. No-one voted to let people away with murder. It turns out this was the case. Without being trite, it’s on a par with the banks miss selling PPI.
    We were sold a lie.

    Peter Hain is trying to ‘explain’ this lie, and thus exposing it.

    That said, I doubt it will affect the political desert we’re in anyway. Just compounds the fact that an ‘agreement’ built on sand will crumble.

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  24. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Barney
    The moderator can censor my post, But any national newspaper saying the same thing tomorrow will not be taken to court for obvious reasons.
    The Daily Mirror(?) called the murderers of Stephen Lawrence for what they were, and challenged them to take them to court. Guess what happened?

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  25. Barney (profile) says:

    Like it or not until a court finds this man guilty of something he is presumed innocent.

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  26. socaire (profile) says:

    Blues Jazz, that sort of attitude expressed by a cowardly MP under privilege in the Mother of Parliaments may have been what brought about the murder of Pat Finucane. But now the phrase ‘perfidious Albion’ will mean more to you.

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  27. Coll Ciotach (profile) says:

    I am wondering how this can be when we consider Gerry McGeogh? Why did SF not speak out?

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  28. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    McGeough broke with Sinn Féin in 2001. This secret mutually-self-serving SF-British deal was in 2006/7.

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  29. tacapall (profile) says:

    All animals are equal but some animals are obviously more equal than others but that’s perfedious albion for you. Unionists cant complain though as they are part and parcel of the same type of behind closed doors deals when it comes to former RUC officers. Secret police files linked to the first fatality of the recent troubles by RUC officers who in July 1969 attacked Sammy Devenny in his own home, who died three months later with severe head injuries is to remain under lock and key until at least 2022 no one has ever been prosecuted. An inquiry was ordered by the then head of the RUC, Sir Arthur Young and he brought in London Metropolitian Police Superintendent Kenneth Drury to head it up which was not released until 2001. In the report Supt Drury critised RUC officers for failing to co-operate with him.

    “I am satisfied that among those officers, who possess this guilty knowledge, there is a conspiracy of silence motivated by a misconceived and improper sense of loyalty to their guilty comrade”

    Did not Sampson, Stalker, O’Loan make similar remarks concerning RUC officers when leading their own inquiries into wrongdoing by RUC officers crimes that included being complicit in murder. What has changed but different politician with the same attitudes.

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  30. socaire (profile) says:

    I always believed that the sister party of the British Labour Party was 100% behind the GFA. Was I wrong Charles?

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  31. Gopher (profile) says:

    I think the time has come for victims to take out civil cases This was how the KKK were broken back in the early eighties. I believe Tony Blair should be called as a witness in any such case.

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  32. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Peter Hain’s dismissive attitude to the families of those murdered tells everything about him and Blair.
    They want, really want, historical adulation; and to hell with any stupid working class idiots who don’t know any better.
    New Labour really were* the definition of cynical Narcissism.
    * Harriet Harman has put the “are” back into play.

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  33. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “I think the time has come for victims to take out civil cases This was how the KKK were broken back in the early eighties.”

    @Gopher,
    Civil suits have been used against all sorts of people involved in terrorism in U.S. courts. But before deciding if it work in the UK you have to look at British law. In American law conviction is easier in civil cases than in criminal cases because the penalties are financial rather than incarceration or death, and because as a result the burden of proof is lower.

    “Personally i believe nobody on any side (at foot soldier level anyway) should be prosectuted for anything pre 1998.”

    @megatron,

    Those in command are more culpable and should be held to a higher standard, but those at the lowest level should be judged on whether they were operating in accordance with policy. Thus, at Bloody Sunday I wouldn’t prosecute the ordinary soldiers if they had been encourage by their commander to act in the way they did, but if they committed murder on their own initiative I would.

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  34. wild turkey (profile) says:

    “Swine Rules”

    it is the oldest insight, and least published headline, in Irish politics.

    we bought the ticket. and here is the ride.

    on a strictly personal note. is the desire to piss down the throat of all the John Downeys, and all his enablers, in this world, politically incorrect? or generic imperative?

    there is a stange notion of innocence and upstanding citizens about in this land

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  35. lpoezy (profile) says:

    I think this is unfair justice.

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  36. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I’m still mulling the considerable detail, but where, do people think, does this leave those families who are seeking the conviction of British soldiers for Bloody Sunday et al?

    I do know the Tories are fit to be tied over this, but even a future Labour government will surely be tempted to use SF’s own logic that these offences were ‘out of date’ will be hard to resist using.

    Trouble is, we’re not being told yet what process led to the issuing of these letters…

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  37. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Can someone please explain why if, after “painstaking investigation to check carefully and methodically whether it was possible to find the evidence to bring a prosecution” he was given assurances that he was “no longer at risk of prosecution” why was he classed as an OTR?

    Surely he was just another average Joe?

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  38. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Two points

    It is now clear that on teh Corry definition there was collusion between teh Labour Government and Sinn Fein to prevent many terrorists being convicted or tried for murder and other heinous crimes

    Second, all the victims of republican violence have been played for fools – HET etc all mean nothing There never was any intention AT ALL of giving you justice

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  39. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    cynic
    The implications are as you say rather deep. British keen to protect its wrong-doers, likewise Sinn Féin. Screw the victims, do it in secret.

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  40. Gopher (profile) says:

    tmitch, I think any civil case contending senior members of a political party where responsible for their loved ones death will have the capacity to call evidence from a whole host of sources to prove that any party should be collectively liable. If for instance members of a political party were on a military council I think it would be reasonable to pursue the facts in a civil case to ascertain their and their parties liability in any deaths injuries or damage. That is how the KKK were destroyed.

    The scope and witnesses of any such case would be interesting, I’m sure it would put Gerry Kellys case in perspective

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  41. thethoughtfulone (profile) says:

    Just listening to Dodds wittering on as usual about it being nothing to do with them, they would never have agreed to it, terrible, scandalous, etc, etc.

    Well if they’re that outraged they (the DUP collectively) should walk out of the assembly today, end of!

    To do otherwise means they are as complicit in the whole vile devious process as anyone from today onwards.

    Also agree strongly with the first post, I voted “yes” after much deliberation but would not have done so if I’d been told truthfully what I was ACTUALLY voting for. The analogy with PPI is a very good one.

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  42. Gopher (profile) says:

    Charles to my mind no case against a pre GFA case will now stand as every lawyer will quote this case as a de facto amnesty and any convictions since will now be appealed in relation to compensation .

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  43. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    “Charles to my mind no case against a pre GFA case will now stand as every lawyer will quote this case as a de facto amnesty and any convictions since will now be appealed in relation to compensation .”

    It certainly has deep implications. We need to know a lot more about what criteria determined who got these letters. Were the names a SF wish list? Did the government act lawfully in issuing these letters?

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  44. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    To briefly go through some of the points this morning.

    Looking at the judgment, there was a lot of wrangling in the early 2000s about OTRs and the like, with SF applying pressure to the government to come up with a solution. Internally the SoSNI and Attorney General argued about corrupting the criminal justice process (especially in support of the ambiguous objective of underpinning the peace process) and there seems to have been a point where they decided they had to legislate. The attempt to legislate failed and they fell back on the stopgap measure of having the police provide letters of non-intent to prosecute.

    During the period SF provided the government with lists of people for whom these letters were drawn up. The authorities investigated and provided the letters (eventually). Apparently this took a long time and Adams and Kelly frequently expressed their frustration with the slow pace.

    The embarrassment to the PSNI comes from the fact that in the letter to John Downey they said that to the best of their knowledge he was not wanted by any police force in the UK. This was shown in the court hearing to be false; the PSNI knew that the Met wanted to arrest him, but they failed to act on the matter either by escalating it to the government or contacting Downey or SF in respect of this.

    The basis of the judgement issued by the court is that it is not in the public interest for the court to be seen to be overturning a solemn promise given by a public official – in this case the PSNI under instruction of the British government who, in the eyes of the court, were making that promise in full knowledge of all of the possible consequences.

    Mention has been made of prosecutions by the HET and so on. It must be pointed out that the letters issued to republicans, as far as I can tell reading the judgement, state that the “amnesty” only applies provided no further new evidence becomes available (which is why it is not really a full amnesty). In the case of the HET, new evidence has become available, specifically the emergence of supergrass evidence.

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  45. The logistics are interesting.
    What makes 187 people write letters to clarify their status?
    What made them think they needed a certificate?
    Or did one person produce 187 letters?

    I. Not necessarily bothered by it. I reckon most of us assumed that there was an amnesty and that people on all sides of the Conflict are benefitting.
    Of course we were never officially told.
    And the Tories wont actually repudiate it.

    DUP and UUP will huff and puff but are they going to walk away from the “institutions”?
    Of course not.
    Nor will any other Party walk away.
    The Collaborators in the media, academia, business, unions wont miss out on the invitations and the photo opportunities.

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  46. OneNI (profile) says:

    This is all as clear as mud. The letters factually state that AT PRESENT the state’s forces have no evidence to pursue the individual concerned.
    If evidence emerged – say through improved DNA results – there is nothing a letter from anyone could do to stop a police force prosecuting?

    It will be interesting to learn how many people were told that Yes the State did want to prosecute.

    The Error over Downey is confusing the issue as he was erroneously told the State had no interest when in fact it had

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  47. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Am I the only person who fails to see why this is such earth shattering news?

    It has already been confirmed that all 187 letters were sent after the PSNI ‘pain-painstakingly’ investigated each and every person and concluded that there was insufficient evidence for prosecution. The letters were not amnesty or a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card – they were confirmation that these people were no longer being pursued.

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  48. Dec (profile) says:

    Mick

    I think you’re right regarding the process behind the issuing of these letters. Why did John Downey receive one when Seamus Kearney didn’t. Was residency a factor?

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  49. Well yes and no.
    As shocking news goes, it is right up there with the discovery that the Pope is a Catholic.
    But Id be wary of such Sir Humphrey terms as “painstaking investigation” as little more than a device to give a de facto amnesty.
    The new information etc is little more than to ensure SFs “behaviour”.

    Its not so much that we were conned.
    We wanted to be conned.

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  50. Morpheus (profile) says:

    I don’t think there is grounds to suggest that the PSNI and the other police services around the UK did not do their jobs properly.

    The mistake here is that Downey should not have gotten a letter in the first place because the courts in England had sufficient evidence for a prosecution and on that basis in my opinion he should face the full weight of the law

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  51. Morpheus (profile) says:

    The decision faced by the Judge at The Old Bailey was a difficult one.

    On one hand he has a court case in front of him with sufficient evidence for a prosecution and on the other he has a man who was mistakengly assured that he was not being pursued. Slightly different scenario but had Ronnie Biggs received a letter whole OTR in Brazil saying that he would not face prosecution if he returned to the UK would it have been acceptable to arrest him when he came back?

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  52. sherdy (profile) says:

    If the police in England had sufficient evidence to take Mr Downey to trial, for what period did they have it, and did they ever try to apprehend him or have him extradited?

    Mike Nesbitt said on Nolan this morning that the letters gave ’187 of the IRA’s top operatives’ a get out of jail free card.

    Does he have evidence that these 187 were members of the IRA, and why did Nolan not pull him up on this dubious claim? Or maybe that’s just another example of Nolan’s biased attitude.

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  53. socaire (profile) says:

    Say, for example, I started a whispering campaign that Charles Gould was involved in a terrorist incident. Charles got to hear of this and being a widely travelled, upstanding businessman became worried that this could lead to complications. He contacts his local MP/MLA to see if anything can be done and is advised to contact police. Police painstakingly investigate and find no shred of evidence connecting him to this incident. Will they issue him with a letter to this effect – as an ordinary Seán Citizen – or does he need to do anything further?

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  54. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Interesting point sherdy – was an application for extradition already in place based on the evidence that was to be put before The Old Bailey?

    It’s starting to look like the Judge’s hands were tied – how could he proceed with a case when the reason the guy was in front of him in the first place was dubious at best. Had he been extradited then all well and good but any QC or Human Rights lawyer will argue that he was teased out of Ireland with the promise of non-prosecution if he entered the UK and then arrested when he did.

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  55. Reader (profile) says:

    socaire: Will they issue him with a letter to this effect – as an ordinary Seán Citizen – or does he need to do anything further?
    Why should CG wait for the whispering campaign? He should apply for the letter right now just in case he ever did anything wrong in the past. Then get it renewed every year, like the MOT.
    Actually, maybe we should all try to get such a letter from the PSNI; or do we need to be sponsored by a political party?

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  56. socaire (profile) says:

    Indeed,Reader. But if one were to apply for such a letter would this not raise suspicion in police circles and actually initiate an investigation? If nothing was found and a letter was issued, would this – in the view of that astute political pundit, Mike Nesbitt – make you no. 188 of the IRA’s top operatives?

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  57. sitarman (profile) says:

    Just when you thought you couldn’t dislike Tony Blair’s smug coupon anymore than you already do! Cheek that they gave us a vote on something we probably didn’t know the half of.

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  58. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    The tide from the Old Bailey has washed over and exposed to public view the filthy underpinnings of the Good Friday Agreement.

    The GFA has no legitimacy now whatsoever.

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  59. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Its not so much that we were conned.
    We wanted to be conned.’

    All round collaborative conning then ? In retro the truth is probably closer to ‘had to be conned ‘. Remember NI politicians had been deaf to the other side for a generation prior to the GFA.

    Had there been no GFA no Assembly no SF in politics and no peace .Instead another 4,000 more dead and billions more in property destruction . Half the NI population would probably have upped sticks and left for Zimbabwe or elsewhere to find peace .

    No they’ll have to find another issue if they hope to bring about the collapse of the Assembly .;

    Whereever there’s law there is injustice and where there’s no law there is even more injustice .

    The GFA is as good as it gets . Imperfect as it is -it’s the only thing left before another descent into a stupid sectarian uncivil war with at the end of it a probable worse solution than the GFA .

    For the families of the victims of that atrocity the GFA came 40 years too late :(

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  60. socaire (profile) says:

    Close, SOS. The British govt has no legitimacy here and never had. Imagine, if we, as a ‘nation’ threatened to vote for independence, do you think the Brits would be making impassioned pleas for us to stay? Or Ziggy either? We’re all you have -usuns – so learn to live with it.

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  61. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    I know this is a difficult concept for some to grasp, mired as they are in that swirling green mud they plod around in, but “we” are not a “‘nation’” in the way some use that word.

    We’re as ‘different’ in that regard as are the Britons who live above and below Hadrian’s Wall.

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  62. Dec[9.55] Naturally,the usual double standards from the usual suspects, we’ve have the DUPs claims that they ‘rendered’ the GFA null and void with the scottish golf course ‘agreement well DUP voters know to their cost that the DUPlicity Party conned them in 2007 to get the figleaf to go into bed with the shinners. This is truly humiliating for politicical unionism with Jim Allister finally calling his colonial masters ‘Perfidious Albion’ who weould have thunk it, so Jim, why are you still clinging onto them?

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  63. Morpheus (profile) says:

    “The GFA has no legitimacy now whatsoever.”

    For goodness sake, take a step into reality here SoS.

    DOWNEY AND THE 186 OTHERS DID NOT HAVE IMMUNITY! All they had were letters saying that they were not being pursued by the police. That’s it. Downey clearly should never have received such a letter because the police in London were pursuing him and had in fact built a case against him. We should be asking of extradition proceedings were underway based on the evidence.

    The Judge at The Old Bailey could have gone ahead and prosecuted the case but any QC worth his/her salt could argue that the only reason he was in front of the Judge in the first place was because he was teased into the UK on the promise that he would not be prosecuted and then prosecuted when he got there. I can’t see why any prosecution would not have been overturned in a heartbeat.

    At least now they can begin extradition proceedings and do the job right.

    The GFA doesn’t even come into it. Not even close.

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  64. socaire (profile) says:

    This is treason! What about the Home nations and all that guff? You mean we really are a ‘province’? Get me the blue rope. Are we not even Britons?

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  65. Son of Strongbow[12.52] And by the same token, that means the St Andrew’s deal is also a con becuse the DUP didn’t even try to overturn those aspects of the original it was against, they didn’t think this would ever come out , but thanks to the incompetent and corrupt police force they are so dedicated to,[and it's still the RUC in all but name] the DUP is exposed.

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  66. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    Morpheus,

    The GFA is increasingly being exposed as built on lies and “side deals” none of which were places before the electorate in the referendum.

    Downey and the other x number from the nationalist murder gang have been given an amnesty.

    If you had read the judgement you perhaps could have grasped the the judge ruled the persecution as a potential abuse of process on the basis that the scumbag had received a letter from the NIO that provided him with an official undertaking that he would not be subject to a prosecution.

    He was not “teased” into the UK. He was arrested at Heathrow on route to Greece.

    Why would the UK authorities waste their time applying for extradition from the ROI, supposing they knew he was resident there, given the ROI’s shameful history of refusing to extradite terrorist suspects?

    danielsmoran,

    The DUP have called for an inquiry into this dirty deal. How do you assume they hope to obscure the knowledge you claim they had of it?

    socaire,

    You appear to be getting rather over excited. If it’ll placate you rejoice in the knowledge that you could comfortably claim to be a Briton. If you do happen to reside on any of the British Isles.

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  67. Morpheus (profile) says:

    How many times??? Are you incapable of independent thought?

    THEY HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN AN AMNESTY!!!!!! They have letters which say that they were not being pursued, that’s it.

    I did not say that he was teased into the UK, I said any QC worth his/her salt would argue that case. As I said earlier, it’s like telling Ronnie Biggs that he would not face prosecution if he came back to the UK from Brazil then arresting him at the airport. Any conviction would be overturned in a heartbeat.

    A mistake was made here – that much is obvious – but at least now the mistake can be rectified by doing it right.

    Your ‘point’ about extradition is simply ludicrous – if the prosecutors had a case and wanted to prosecute the guy then why would they not apply to extradite him? Was the plan to have all the evidence and witnesses ready to go in case he happened to pop in to the UK? Wake up man.

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  68. Reader (profile) says:

    socaire: Indeed,Reader. But if one were to apply for such a letter would this not raise suspicion in police circles and actually initiate an investigation? If nothing was found and a letter was issued, would this – in the view of that astute political pundit, Mike Nesbitt – make you no. 188 of the IRA’s top operatives?
    I’m not afraid of a sloppily conducted paper sifting exercise. And in any case, if the idea takes off I doubt I will be No 188 in the queue. Also, I’m not planning to have my application sponsored by SF; I may see if NI21 will take it on.

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  69. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    Calm down dear. Morphing into Mr Shouty Man you’ll do yourself a mischief.

    How many times??? Are you incapable of thought?

    Mr Justice Sweeney ruled on 21 February “the public interest in making state officials keep their promises outweighed the public interest in a trial being held.”

    If you suppose the Downey will be tried when the “mistake” is “rectified” you are even more out of touch than I thought you were.

    Now you’ve had your go at taking the thread off down a white rabbit hole tangent any thoughts on the undertakings being sought in the first place? Or the Shinners focus on providing an escape route from Justice during discussions supposedly about the future shape of politics here? Or even what it says about Sinn Fein’s oft referenced concerns about ‘truth recovery’?

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  70. Greenflag (profile) says:

    So the left hand of British justice doesn’t know what the right hand is doing . But it was ever thus in Ireland -North or South .
    Hardly a surprise for anyone who knows their Irish or British history .

    Perhaps Scotland Yard were under the impression that the Northern Ireland ‘troubles ‘ were over ?

    Back to the future then chaps with nothing learned and less gained as usual .

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  71. Morpheus (profile) says:

    How on God’s green earth is what I said taking the thread down a rabbit hole? It seems to me that you are reading things which are making too much sense so the ‘Does Not Compute – must attack’ sign goes up.

    This tin-foil hat conspiracy theory of yours implies that the police forces throughout the UK got together and got rid of any evidence they had so they could say that they had no evidence and where not pursing these guys. Does that sound even remotely plausible to you given the nature of these heinous, cowardly attacks?

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  72. Flairbatov (profile) says:

    In response to the point raised my Mick: from what I can see, the decision to issue letters of this kind is easily reconcilable with the continuation of the policy to prosecute the British soldiers culpable for Bloody Sunday.

    As has been clearly outlined in the comments of Morpheus above, the issue of these letters resulted from some kind of application process whereby a person who deemed themselves to be “on the run” requested a confirmation that they were no longer being sought by a police force within the UK. Investigations were then conducted, which resulted in a determination of either yes or no. By that logic, we would have to assume that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone who received such a letter. The only thing the case of John Downey ultimately illustrates is that an administrative error was made in his particular case and that a letter should not have been given to him. What we can’t assume is that there was a prosecutable case against each of the other 186 letter holders; in fact, I would assume the exact opposite in respect each of them given the duration of the investigations prior to the issue of the letters. It also seems obvious that a person applying for such a letter could be met with a refusal: indeed, the judgement in Downey’s case makes it clear that it was only an error that prevented this from happening for him.

    British soldiers, on the other hand, are currently the subject of a police investigation. If we, hypothetically, have a British soldier who suddenly flees over the border today because he thought a criminal prosecution was on its way, and he then applied for one of these letters, surely he would only get one if it was determined there was a lack of evidence at the conclusion of the investigatory process? If, on the other hand, there was a prosecutable case then it seems he would be refused.

    All this “revelation” says me is that there was an opportunity available to “OTRs” to find out the state of play so to speak; it certainly does not smell anything like an amnesty to me.

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  73. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    What about people exiled by the IRA (usually young men in trouble for anti social behaviour though not all) – will these OTRs be “allowed” home
    after all they are also a problem left over from GFA.

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  74. Flairbatov (profile) says:

    I wasn’t aware that this type of activity was exclusive to the IRA…

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  75. foyle observer (profile) says:

    Unionist hypocrisy at it’s very best here. Love it.

    Keep it up lads.

    Downey is an innocent man…unless i’m missing something?

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  76. Morpheus (profile) says:

    We’ll be able to comment on his innocence after the trial

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  77. foyle observer (profile) says:

    Aye alright Morpheus, look forward to the trial of those terrorists who killed 13 men in Derry in January 1972 also…can’t WAIT for your contribution.

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  78. Morpheus (profile) says:

    The Paras won’t face trial even though they should.

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  79. ThomasPaine (profile) says:

    As I said at 11:12pm last night, watch unionist politicians go into full electioneering mode and exploit this mercilessly.

    From Jonathon Powell’s Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland, page 241:

    On our return I had a meeting with Robinson and Dodds who were retreating fast, saying they were having trouble taking Ian Paisley with them. I wrote in my diary, ‘They are a reflection of Sinn Fein. They want to move together in one body and not risk losing people through splits, so they will take no risks.’

    When I saw them a few weeks later they said they had now sold their ideas to Ian Paisley in a three hour meeting and he hadn’t objected. They said they could accept the implementation of the unpopular undertakings we had made under the Joint Declaration on OTRs as long as Tony wrote to Paisley making it clear that these concessions had been agreed during David Trimble’s watch, not theirs.

    We sent the letter and they later used it as an effective political weapon against Trimble.

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  80. thethoughtfulone[8.55] I see Robinson on UTV 6.00 news trying to have it both ways, threatening resigning from Stormont unless he is given a public inquiry which will take until after the elections in May to outwork so he can carry on getting his fivers, but it’s hard now to see Stormont surviving much longer under these conditions.

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  81. sherdy (profile) says:

    Typical DUP theatrics from Robbo – for God’s sake go if you want – you’re useless anyway!

    We’re expected to believe no unionist of any colour knew anything about negotiations for the OTRs. If they didn’t know then they are totally incompetent – they should have asked the proverbial dogs in the street.

    A special team in the PSNI had been set up to decide who should or should not be eligible for a letter of clearance. For years the RUC and later PSNI had been in the habit of delivering supposedly confidential information on republicans to the unionists and their paramilitaries.

    Now we are told that their police friends told them nothing, showed them nothing, no winks or nods.

    Impossible to believe them!

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  82. Neil (profile) says:

    Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Big Ian were to come out and say they knew about it in 98?

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  83. ThomasPaine (profile) says:

    Thought about that earlier Neil.

    Despite the now obvious huge falling out between him and Robinson/Dodds/the DUP, I doubt Paisley will say he knew about it in 98 even if he did. (and he did)

    The reason for this is his ego and his legacy – how will he be remembered by the unionist folk when he dies, as he knows he will within the next 5-10 years.

    Anyone who is any doubt as to who knew what just has to read Powell’s book.

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  84. Neil (profile) says:

    I know it sucks, 5 pound Pete has a ready made excuse to explain the big man off if needs be. But still, hell hath no fury like a Big Ian scorned, and he still commands affection from many.

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  85. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Neil, if Ian Paisley is to make any kind of statement about this OTR business, I would be shocked if it was not in printed form only. The last time I saw him on TV, he was not his old self. I think he could still string some words together though he would be better off letting the reader hear it in the thunderous voice of yesteryear.

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  86. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10662814/Theres-no-justice-for-those-who-fought-the-IRA.html

    Nail on head.

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  87. Flairbatov (profile) says:

    BlueJazz,

    It’s a pity that that piece is based on the proposition that these letters granted amnesty to the receivers, a claim that has been shown to be thoroughly incorrect.

    If any British soldier wished to apply for a such a letter, I would fully support their right to do so. However, since so many of them are currently being investigated, they would not receive one.

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  88. Morpheus[8.26] A spokesman for victims of Hyde Park bombing suggeted on tv interviews that the PSNI were to blame, not for inadvertantly botching the letter to the NIO, but deliberately passing up a later chance to correct their original mistake. This seems to have happened at the same time as it was alleged elements in the PSNI in 2002 who were against the Trimble mallon stormont tried and succeeded in sabotaging it by the stunt of SF spying at stormont.Could the same element in the force be still actively trying to end this version of Stormont?

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  89. Thomas Paine[10.49] Why was it that in BBC and UTV interviews with Robinson on Tuesday’s teatime news they failed/declined to put Powell’s memoirs claims to the FM. This suggests newsrooms at both Ormeus have too many DUP pals in their midst.

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