Chris Thornton notes that the issue of On the runs has plagued the process for about five years. Indeed, when the government tried to put through legislation on the matter it was rejected out of hand, even though Peter Hain had appended some taxing conditions of its own. Any comprehensive deal is likely to come at a price, thus the strong denials from Downing Street.Thornton notes:
Just last week, in a written reply to UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, Peter Hain said “we have no plans to bring forward any legislation on ‘on the runs’, or to introduce an amnesty”.
Fair enough. But Mr Hain also repeated that the issue “will need to be addressed at some stage” and pointedly avoided answering part of Lady Hermon’s question about using existing procedures to give OTRs special treatment. One of those existing procedures would be a decision by the Attorney General to drop cases in “the public interest”, just as he did recently with the allegations of bribery in a Saudi arms deal.
Last night the NIO insisted that reports suggesting that would happen are ” entirely incorrect”. They have yet to make it clear how it will be resolved.
However, that NIO Statement does provide some hint at how it might be resolved, by not actually resolving it:
OTR cases are considered by the PPS according to the tests for prosecution. These tests are set out in the statutory code for prosecutors and apply to all cases. Each case is considered individually on the basis of its particular facts and circumstances. There are no exceptions.
Hmmm, that would be the PPS that takes its direction from London then…
The serial collapse of individual cases might just do what the failed ‘deal’ on legislation could not…
Just watch this space…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty