English Directors of Public Prosecutions past and present are setting a record for newsworthy comment. First, the present incumbent Keir Starmer cried shame at Camerons idea of replacing the Human Right Act. Note that Starmer wants to catch up with NI practice and substitute public for Crown prosecution service). And now his predecessor Ken Macdonald makes a powerful, piercingly honest case shorn of humbug for using information gathered through torture by foreign agencies and the non-prosecution of MI6 officers allegedly involved There is a careful, highly selective read-across to the Troubles. Needless to say, well all have out own versions. Any chance of a peep from the local equivalent or a presser from the local lord chief justice? In the interests of accountability, chaps, like your English counterparts?
So, what of torture, an ultimate abuse of state power? Of course, the practice is always beyond law and salvation, and yet the line between using material obtained this way and complicity in the crimes that create it is more crooked than wed like to allow.
His scathing verdict on some of the Blair eras emergency legislation sheds light on the continuing tension between politicians and the legal establishment. And this guy was a prosecutor, for heavens sake!.
It is, of course, a great shame that the Government has wildly devalued their dilemma by pretending that the choices we face are starker than they usually are: the elevation of security paranoia to attack our constitution for purely party political advantage was a particular disgrace in the Blair years.
It is a shocking degradation of left-of-centre politics that this cowardice failed to make us any safer and simultaneously encouraged foolish disbelief in the State itself.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London