The director will not be required to answer to the assembly..

With a target date pencilled in, pending delivery, for the devolution of policing and justice powers Newton Emerson has been thinking about what those powers will be, or rather what they won’t be. He’s looked at the best available guide from the NIO in February 2006, which formed the basis of discussions during the summer, and spots an area of interest, the Public Prosecution Service, where operational decisions continue to be the subject of debate. [added link]From the invaluable Newshound

The laughably obvious list of PPS political manipulation goes on and on. So how does the government intend to reform this rotten system? The discussion paper proposes that Stormont’s first minister and deputy first minister should appoint a new attorney general for Northern Ireland, who will in turn appoint the director of the PPS. But the paper adds: “The attorney general NI will have no power of direction or superintendence over the PPS, whether in individual cases or on matters of policy.”

That power won’t go to Stormont either.

The next paragraph says: “The director will not be required to answer to the assembly except in relation to finance and administration.” There is no PPS oversight role whatsoever for the much-debated policing and justice minister. The government claims that this is all essential to retain “the independence and impartiality of the prosecution system”. However, that system is now so discredited that proactive, rather than passive, measures on accountability are clearly required. If our new attorney general doesn’t control the PPS and our elected politicians can only query the director’s budget, then it is still safe to assume that a phone can be lifted in London and a case can be dropped in Belfast as ongoing appeasement requires.

Or is that what Sinn Féin and the DUP want as well?

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  • heck

    could someone please explain to me how this is consistent with “the rule of law”?

    A lot of people on this site use the term “rule of law” and have no idea what they are talking about.

    SF should not sign up to support the PSNI/UVF until honest Tony and the british government pledge total and unambigious support for “the rule of law”

  • Yokel

    I assume you mean ‘Honest Tony’ in a second hand car salesman kind of way?e

    Whilst i have respect for him on som levels Tony Blair is a desperate man and will say most things to anyone.

    For the first time, yesterday actually looked like exasperation that he was being asked to state the obvious and for once it appears that he may himself feel that this thing is going to make it before he goes and he won’t have his legacy.

    Given that he can disconnect and let someone else deal with it.

  • joeCanuck

    Pte,

    I fully understand the desireabilty of the DPP not being under the operational control of the A.G.
    But are you really telling us that, although the A.G. can hire a DPP, he can’t fire him or her (for cause). That would be ludicrous.

  • Yokel

    isn’t…

  • Quaysider

    You’ve missed the point by a mile, Heck.
    The rule of law has been compromised by the British for the benefit of Sinn Fein. The PPS has been the main means of delivering this appeasement. The PSNI is another issue entirely.
    What Sinn Fein needs to consider is its own conflict of interest over how to reform a justice system that’s been corrupted to serve the peace process, frequently at Sinn Fein’s own behest.

  • joeCanuck

    True Quaysider.
    It seems to me that a lot of the dubious decisions not to prosecute because “it wasn’t in the public interest” were made by politicos, not the DPP.
    SF were not the only beneficiaries of this.
    There is no place for that in a true democracy.
    Governments have to be held to the same standards of accountability as the person who exceeds the speed limit, or whatever.
    However, that is for the immediate future. Regarding the past, we are slowly emerging from a disgusting little war and I suspect we’ll be asked to hold our noses while the collusion cases go away and the OTRs come home.

  • mickhall

    “However, that is for the immediate future. Regarding the past, we are slowly emerging from a disgusting little war and I suspect we’ll be asked to hold our noses while the collusion cases go away and the OTRs come home.”

    Joe,
    Surly that is a one way deal, for the OTRs have already paid a price for their alleged crime, whilst the State employees who have been engaged in collusion with death squads etc will get off scot free. This seems to me to be not much of a deal, but then there is a long list of such nonsense.

    Instead of this being a new deal on law and order etc, as your man claims, it looks increasingly like more of the same.

  • jone

    Here’s Lord Bingham on “the rule of law” in last year’s William’s lecture. It’s long but pretty easy to follow and well worth reading by anyone minded to bandy the phrase around.

    Lord Bingham’s speech

    [that might work – moderator]

  • heck

    Quayside “The rule of law has been compromised by the British for the benefit of Sinn Fein.” Which planet are you living on? The one shinner that I am aware of that was given a pass by the prosecution service was Dennis Donaldson and to suggest that that was for the benefit of Sinn Fein” is really a stretch. It was done to protect the role of British Intelligence in the assembly. The other case that has been suggested (by Ingram only –so take it with a pinch of salt) is MMcG and Ingram claims that is because he is a british agent. Look at the role of the prosecution service in the case of “Kevin Fulton”, a british agent who has confessed to multiple murders. Why has he not been charged. British agent Scap is believed to have committed up to 40 murders, why has’nt he been brought before a court and have the details exposed. (I don’t care if SF are embarassed!)
    This is a pattern by the prosecution service-from torture in Castlereagh in the 70’s, through Stalker’s investigation of the RUC’s shoot to kill policies in the early 80’s to Steven’s investigations in the 90’s, of not holding the state to account. To suggest that this is ”for the benefit of Sinn Fein” is fatuous nonsense.
    The “rule of law” is to protect the citizen from the arbitary use of executive power and this does not exist in Norn Iron, and blaming SF is idiotic. If you want order Sadam imposed order but it was not the rule of law. That , to a much lesser degree, is what exists in Norn Iron. (I was going to mention a german dictator but someone would just claim some blog law—Sadam makes the same point.)

  • jone

    If a non-luddite could make that link clickable it would much appreciated.

  • joeCanuck

    You can download it here Jone.
    I couldn’t get a link to work, and it’s 35 pages so I didn’t want to crash slugger in any way.

    That’s here

    [cheers joe – moderator]

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is a pattern by the prosecution service-from torture in Castlereagh in the 70’s, through Stalker’s investigation of the RUC’s shoot to kill policies in the early 80’s to Steven’s investigations in the 90’s, of not holding the state to account.

    Heck,

    Given that the prosecution service was only set up on 13th June 2005, how can it be blamed for the incidents you’re talking about ?

    Decisions on prosecutions were previously taken by the police.

  • Quaysider

    Not only is Heck unaware of the prosecution system’s history but he now seems to have missed the point twice. The cases he mentioned (Stormontgate, Scappaticci, Denis Donaldson) were all clearly dropped to avoid embarrassing Britain and Sinn Fein and Sinn Fein has very happy to play along in all instances. Loyalists are clearly receiving the same treatment but the ‘two wrongs make a right’ mentality is what’s getting the PPS into this mess in the first place.
    It seems obvious that Heck is simply posting knee-jerk defences of Sinn Fein here without giving the problem much deeper thought.

  • Cynic

    Ah yes! Having an elected politician here (whether DUP or Sinn Fein) take decisions on prosecutions would be much better than an independent lawyer, wouldnt it. That would really guarantee honest, impartial, apolitical justice!

  • heck

    quaysider

    I believe that during the Castlereagh period the organization was referred to as the DPP (director of public prosecutions) and was headed by Barry Shaw. You probably think long kesh didn’t exist before it was renamed the Maze or that the PSNI and RUC are different organizations.

    If you think (Stormontgate, Scappaticci, Denis Donaldson) were all clearly dropped to avoid embarrassing Sinn Fein then I have some weapons of mass destruction to show you! Even of you are right it still proves my point about “the rule of law”.

    Cynic, the US has elected district attorneys who act as prosecutors and, while not perfect-look at the Duke rape case , it works better that the corrupt system in Norn I

  • Cynic

    So do we elect one (I assume DUP/ Unionist) DPP for all of Norn Ireland or area DPPs in each constituency so they can apply local ‘senitivities’ (ie bigotries) in their decisions? There will be a lot of prosecutions for smuggling in South Armagh won’t there!

    And the US systems works better than that in NI? Really? In what way? With blatently political prosecutions in the run up to elections in attempts to curry votes? With a refusal to investigate (never mind prosecute) alleged war crimes?

    Sorry, but get real! There are major problems with the system here but let’s be realistic about what could work here.

    Furthermore, many of the problems dont relate to the PPS per se. The UK’s ludicrous disclosure regime means that often the only way to prosecute criminals and terrorists is to disclose the identities of any informers who may have given relevant information. Unfortunately doing that would breach Article 2 of the ECHR (as they would be likley to be killed) so the only way to protect the informant is to stop the prosecution.

  • cynic

    Why did the system change the word ‘bigotries’ to ‘unpleasant’ in my last post?

  • cynic

    Slug

    Is b*i*g*o*t*r*i*e*s such a sensitive word that its automatically banned?

    Am I breaking a posting rule?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I believe that during the Castlereagh period the organization was referred to as the DPP (director of public prosecutions) and was headed by Barry Shaw.

    There was an office called the “Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions”, but the “public prosecution service” in the current form did not exist before a year and a half ago.

    AFAIK, the PPS took over responsibility for prosecutions from the PSNI. I can’t remember but I think that was one of the Patten recommendations that the chuckies keep saying weren’t implemented.

    That said, the PPS has a lot to answer for. Especially over the case surrounding the Northern Bank robbery and “Stormontgate”.