NEWTON Emerson asks what a lot of people have been thinking lately – is the Public Prosecution Service fit for purpose? Any lay observer of the recent failed prosecution of Chris Ward in the Northern Bank case, or Sean hoey in the Omagh bomb case could have predicted the result very easily, with minimal knowledge of the law. Both cases were doomed to failure because of the lack of evidence, leading one to question why the cases were brought to court. I tend to favour cock-up (the PPS wanting to be seen to be doing something to deal with the biggest successful cash heist in British history and the largest single loss of life in the Troubles) over conspiracy (‘pro-process’ political influence, or believing that the days of a sympathetic judge prepared to pull a fast one are still here), but however you perceive it, whether unionist, nationalist or other, it is very hard to have much confidence in the courts when it comes to the big cases, the McCartney murder being another. Emerson concludes that the “kindest explanation is that the PPS is suffering from the malaise which inevitably afflicts every unaccountable public-sector body” but laments that nothing is likely to change with the devolution of policing and justice.