Hain battles on [in absentia]

You might have thought that the Attorney-General’s review of the Judicial Review of the appointment of the interim Victims Commissioner by then-Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain, was the end of the matter – given that he recommended no action to be taken against those involved. But, as the Belfast Telegraph has been reporting, the Appeal Court has been hearing an appeal against the original High Court ruling on behalf of the now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [and Wales – Ed].. and associated civil servants no doubt. In the event that the Appeal Court overturns that original ruling and, in doing so, part of the findings of the review of the review it will, of course, have been money well spent..A reminder of part of the findings of the Attorney-General’s review

(b) In particular, the OFMDFM response was relied upon by Counsel for the Secretary of State during the initial stages of the litigation and led to the Court being misled by submissions based on the content of that letter. Those submissions suggested that Mrs McDougall had been appointed by a suitable selection process, and that her appointment was not politically motivated. In fact, Mrs McDougall had been nominated by the DUP and her appointment was intended to be a confidence building measure towards that party. In all the circumstances the appointment was indeed, as Girvan J found, politically motivated, though as he noted this in no way reflected on Mrs McDougall’s competence or integrity. [added emphasis]

And a quick reminder of that original ruling

[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;

(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 [added emphasis]

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