Memo to Peter Hain

When a High Court judge has ruled that you “failed in your duty of candour to the court”, that you had “approve[d] and sanction[ed] the swearing and filing of an affidavit” that “was ambiguous and failed to disclose all the relevant material pertaining to the appointment” and that your course of action was such that “The inference to be drawn is that the respondent (Mr Hain) was attempting to divert attention from the true course of events.” it’s probably not a good idea when responding to criticism based on that ruling to continue to attempt to divert attention from the true course of events.From the Belfast Telegraph

Speaking earlier to Welsh parliamentary journalists, Mr Hain said he was looking at the “consequences” of the judgement.

He said: “I think the people of Wales should look at the facts on the ground. Those facts on the ground were that we had to do important preparatory work to deal with the problem of thousands of victims of the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

“I think the victims of the Troubles have been neglected for far too long. The preparatory work which was done on an interim basis has been leading up to that.

“Obviously we are studying the judgement carefully and we are looking at the consequences of that but the big picture is that I was acting on behalf of victims and will continue to do so.”

And from the BBC report on the delay of the High Court hearing to further consider what action to take.

“What I think is when this report from Bertha McDougall on a way forward for victims, when that comes to me, I think it will be an important report that will show the way forward and I think that the decision I made will be seen to be the right one,” he said.

Let’s study that judgement again shall we?

Fionnuala O’Connor tackled Hain and his cavalier attitude in today’s Irish Times[subs req]

The North has seen a gradual, piecemeal creation of systems of fairness. It has taken more than three decades to establish a culture of balance and openness about making public appointments. Parades, troublesome since the 18th century, have become less problematic with the ebbing of violence, the painstaking implementation of rules and the directions of the Parades Commission.

There is nothing safe and settled about this fledgling culture of fairness: it must have official respect as well as compliance. At a delicate moment, Mr Justice Girvan’s eloquence on the necessity for vigilance in the matter of public appointments struck a blow for the concept of the judiciary as guardian of what is fair and just.

Mr Hain has invested much energy in trying to line up the job of deputy prime minister, post-Blair.

He knows well that the Northern Ireland post attracts more sympathy than scrutiny in Westminster. But whatever his next job, he should have learned in Belfast that some corners are too important to be cut.

We can only hope he doesn’t do too much more damage before he leaves.

It’s, possibly, already too late…