“The position in the common law world..”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State has his opinion of what he would, or would not, consider taking forward from the Consultative Group on the Past’s report but other concerns about the recommendations remain. For example, what happens to the rights of anyone accused of criminal activity during the “fixed five-year mandate” of the Legacy Commission? Or are those rights to be suspended in pursuit of “forgiveness and reconciliation”? In today’s Irish Times, Frank Millar reports the views of Peter Smith QC.

The Eames-Bradley report lays stress on the need for its proposals to be “human rights compatible” and recognises that witnesses may need access to legal advice. Against that, Mr Smith said, the apparent guarantee against self-implication sat alongside a power to compel witnesses and the production of papers, in proceedings intended to be non-adversarial, in which it appeared a person accused of serious wrong-doing or criminality would be denied the basic courtroom rights to face his or her accuser, and to challenge them by means of questioning by their lawyer.

“The position in the common law world is that where serious allegations are to be made, an individual must have these rights,” said Mr Smith. “For any commission or tribunal to adjudicate on a person’s alleged criminal behaviour without these essential safeguards would be revolutionary.”


Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.