Appeal of judicial review of “smoke filled rooms” appointments rejected

A BBC report notes that the Belfast Court of Appeal has rejected a challenge to an earlier judicial review of OFMDFM’s appointment of four Victims Commissioners. According to the report

But on Tuesday, the court ruled there was no evidence that the ministers involved were motivated by improper political considerations. Nor that they acted on the grounds of political opinion or religious belief.

That absence of evidence would be because then-First Minister, Ian Paisley Snr, and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were not subpoenaed about their un-documented and witness-free meetings, in office, about the eventual appointments. But it doesn’t mean there’s evidence of absence. Well, it is “a fragile flower which requires careful tending…”To repeat myself,

If Peter Hain’s improper political motivation had been equally exempted from scrutiny would his Interim appointment have been ruled unlawful?

And as Mark Devenport said at the time

In short, this judgment looks to have cut the legs off any future attempt to judicially review the OFMDFM and to provide a “carte blanche” for meetings without officials and note takers present.

But never fear, if you disagree in the future with an OFMDFM decision, you don’t need to turn to the courts, because our ministers, as Mr Justice Gillen notes “are accountable to the Assembly where they are likely to be questioned and scrutinised”. And we all know just how effective the Assembly has been at carrying out that job in the past.