Interim Victims’ Commissioner appointment “was not lawfully made”

The legal challenge to the appointment of the four Victims Commissioners may be rumbling on, but we’ve news of the long-running battle by former Secretary of State Peter Hain against Mr Justice Girvan’s 2006 ruling that his appointment of the interim Victims Commissioner, Bertha McDougall, was a breach of his Ministerial Code of Practice. After a lengthy investigation into the conduct of Hain and his civil servants during that review, the Attorney-General had recommended no action against those involved, but Hain battled on [in absentia].. According to the iol report the Appeal Court today ruled that

Today’s ruling said: “The Court of Appeal determined that all the available evidence pointed to the conclusion that the Secretary of State did not have regard to the provisions of the code at any time during his deliberations and on that account his decision to appoint Mrs McDougall could not be allowed to stand.” It added: “The decision to appoint Mrs Bertha McDougall as the interim Victims’ Commissioner was not lawfully made as the Secretary of State failed to take into account the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies.”

The BBC report quotes this line from the ruling

In its ruling the Court of Appeal said: “It appears to us to be clear that the secretary of state, in making this appointment, was not bound to comply with the terms of the code of practice but it is equally clear that he was obliged to take the requirements of the code into account when deciding whether to make the appointment.”

Money well spent then..