No soft landing for Peter Hain

The legal representatives of the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, Peter Hain, have had a busy day. Not only were they in the High Court to hear Mr Justice Deeny rule that Peter Hain had acted unlawfully in regard to the Billy Wright inquiry, but they were also in front of Mr Justice Girvan, who has already had his call for an inquiry into those misleading affidavits answered by the Attorney-General. This time Mr Justice Girvan was to rule on a request to quash the appointment of Bertha McDougall as Interim Victims Commissioner, an appointment he has already ruled was illegal and in breach of Peter Hain’s ministerial code of practice – a ruling that the Secretary of State has not challenged.According to the reports [not yet online] Mr Justice Girvan offered a compromise to the various parties represented in court. Namely that Mrs McDougall could publish her report but only under her own name as a private individual – not as the Interim Victims Commissioner.

The legal representatives for Mrs McDougall and the representative for the Secretary of State both agreed to that compromise. But the representative for Brenda Downes, who had taken the original case to court, declined the offered compromise saying that it would provide the Secretary of State with a soft landing that he was not entitled to – although they did suggest that the report could be incorporated into a future report by a properly appointed Victims Commissioner.

Mr Justice Girvan has reserved his judgement and it is expected that he will deliver his ruling on the matter in the New Year.

While I’m not keen on futuring in general, I would suggest that the fact that Mr Justice Girvan offered a compromise ahead of his ruling – to allow for the report to be published privately and not as an official Interim Victims Commissioner’s report – would appear to indicate that he is minded to rule in favour of Brenda Downes and quash the appointment of Mrs McDougall.

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