Attorney General appoints QC for inquiry

While I haven’t heard what happened with the affidavit yet, the BBC report that the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, has appointed Peter Scott QC to conduct the inquiry called for by Mr Justice Girvan into the conduct of the Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain, and his senior civil servants and whther they met the high level of candour expected. As I suggested the actual terms of the inquiry are important and, although Peter Hain’s statement again – see memo – focuses on the appointment itself, the 67 questions Mr Justice Girvan sent to the Attorney General relate to a separate issue – whether or not there was a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice. I’ll add the actual terms of the inquiry when/if they appear. Added Terms described in written answer in the House of LordsFrom the BBC report

On Monday, Lord Goldsmith set out the terms of reference of the inquiry.

Mr Scott will examine Mr Justice Girvan’s concerns – in particular the way in which the government carried out its obligation of candour in the judicial review procedure.

The Attorney General’s office said Lord Goldsmith had asked that Mr Scott report to him as soon as is possible “consistent with the need to conduct a thorough review”.

Peter Hain’s statement

He said: “I welcome this review. I appointed Bertha McDougall to prepare a report for me as important preparatory work ahead of the appointment of a permanent Victims Commissioner. This is to ensure the crucial work on behalf of victims can have the best possible start.

“I make no apology for that. There is absolutely no question of any deliberate attempt to mislead the Court or anyone else. I and my Department will cooperate fully with this review and will await its findings.”

Well, there is a question of a deliberate attempt to mislead the Court or someone else.. 67 questions, actually.

And, meanwhile, there is still the original ruling of the High Court.

Conclusions

[59] The appointment of Mrs McDougall

(a) breached section 76 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;

(b) being in breach of the accepted merit norms applicable to public appointments and in breach of the Ministerial Code of Practice in the circumstances the appointment, was in breach of the power of appointment under the Royal Prerogative;[added emphasis]

(c) was motivated by an improper purpose, being motivated by a political purpose ( so called confidence building) which could not be legitimately pursued at the expense of complying with the proper norms of public appointments where merit is the overriding consideration; and

(d) failed to take account of the fact that there was no evidential basis for concluding that the appointee would command cross-community support.

A ruling which also pointed to failing in the duty of candour to the court

Added The terms of the inquiry are set out in a written answer to the House of Lords

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): Mr Justice Girvan referred certain matters to me, as Attorney-General for Northern Ireland and as,

“the guardian of the public interest in the due administration of justice”,

so that I may investigate concerns of his that arose during the conduct of judicial review proceedings in respect of the appointment of the interim Victims’ Commissioner. I have concluded that that is best done by appointing an independent person to carry out a review and report to me. Mr Peter Scott QC has agreed to carry out the review and will report back to me. He will commence immediately. The terms of reference we have agreed are as follows:

Further to the referral of papers to the Attorney-General by Girvan J and in the light of his judgments of 9 November and 20 November 2006:

to examine the concerns raised by the judge;to examine in particular the way in which the Government carried out their obligation of candour in the judicial review proceedings relating to the appointment of an interim Commissioner for Victims and Survivors; and to report to the Attorney-General with recommendations to prevent a recurrence of any shortcomings identified.[added emphasis]

,

  • Let’s face it, this is just more Downing Street spin to mute Peter Hain’s behavior in failing to appoint Brenda Downes Victims Commissioner for fear a raising the issue of Law Lord Hutton’s treatment of her husband’s killer – what would raise the ugly head of Dr. David Kelly’s demise and its cover-up – and speaking out of turn a week ago last Sunday about President Putin’s role in murder, especially that of ‘loose cannon’ Alexander Litvinenko.

    At the end of the day, the AQ’s QC will come up with nothing since it was within the S.O.S.’s discretion to appoint Bertha McDougall temporarily.

  • Plum Duff

    So, let me get this right. Lord Goldsmith, a Cabinet Minister, appoints the chair of a committee to investigate into the machinations of a fellow Cabinet Minister. And given that the same Lord G made a total hames of assessing evidence on the reasons for the War in Iraq, does anyone think that there’s a possibility of him committing an error in picking a tame lawyer to arrive at a not-too-embarrassing a conclusion? Devil the thought, say I.

    As Hutton was mentioned in the dispatch above, I’m minded to paraphrase Mrs Beeton ‘First catch your judge’.

  • Hain’s doomed. He’s too arrogant to admit this to himself yet (and more than a touch too dense), but his parliamentary colleagues certainly understand it. Already half a dozen of his Deputy Leadership bid supporters have peeled off, but watch this space. Over Christmas, an awful lot of sh*t is going to be dumped on Hain by Downing St. New year: new Secretary of State. And for those of you who care about such things, it will, in effect, be Gordon’s first appointment to the Cabinet.

  • topdeckomnibus

    Pete writes about being wary of the terms of reference.

    For Dr Kelly I think the terms were “Examine the circumstances SURROUNDING the death of Dr Kelly”

    As I understand it the Coroner duty is to weigh the circumstances LEADING TO a death.

    And the Coroner does not weigh the circumstances WHICH LED to a death.

    The UN Minnesota Protocol (which has featured on threads before) sets a minimum standard for sudden death inquiry in deaths where govt involvement is suspected. UK is signatory. I still say that Dr Kelly has not received his UN Protocol rights of independent investigation.

    Supposing a properly interested person wanted to appeal the inquest .. then they require fiat from the Attorney General. He, as custodian of public interest, can deny access to the judiciary and reasons are never given.

    As far as Iraq is concerned I think Goldsmith opined that an argument COULD be made for the legality of the invasion. But I don’t think he actually went as far as saying that he agreed with the argument !!

    Lord WORDSMITH Pete.

  • I wonder…

    ..if Hain goes will his political advisor Phil Taylor go as well?

    He asked all Perm Secs to come up with a policy for NI’s old people – this afternoon.

    He asked them (at 1:30) to have a detailed paper on proposals for 6pm. Nice to see that NI’s old folk are a priority for PH and his ilk.

    Just imagine what a detailed and well thought out strategy for the elderly will emerge today 🙂