Victims Commissioner under fire

Things don’t seem to be going swimmingly for the Secretary of State. In the High Court last week, the Judicial Review against the appointment of Bertha McDougall as Victim’s Commissioner revealed some uncomfortable information. The Head of the NICS, Nigel Hamilton advised the Court that Mr Hain was ‘mindful’ that Mrs McDougall’s name had been put forward by the DUP.

Not good enough for Judge Girvan who has ordered Hamilton to appear for cross-examination. Where a deponent has used language of such an ambiguous nature then the court should grant leave to cross-examine The Secretary of State may find himself appearing before the Court on this matter also. Of a far more serious nature is Mrs McDougall’s attitude to the ‘hierarchy of victims.Seamus Treacy QC, for Mrs Downes, said the question to be determined was whether the appointment of Mrs McDougall was merit-based or was made for an improper motive. If it was for the latter then it was done for reasons of political expediency and was not impartial,” he said.

Mr Treacy quoted from a document obtained following a court order which stated that Mrs McDougall had indicated to NIO officials that she would find it difficult to regard those convicted of terrorism in the same category as the broad range of victims.

This would make her a very narrowly defined Victims’s Commissioner, and one in whom victims of state violence could have little confidence, based on this statement.