The Northern Ireland Attorney General, John Larkin, has been complaining about his lack of powers of supervision over the Public Prosecution Service since he was appointed in May 2010. It was, he said at the time, “something that should be urgently looked at”.
The NI Justice Minister, David Ford, responded on 7 June 2010 that he intended “to start discussions with the First Minister and deputy First Minister on whether the relationship the law sets down between the new Attorney General and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) needs to be looked at again.”
And, in July 2010, the NI Attorney General repeated his concerns.
Today, 1 June 2011, the BBC are now reporting that, in a written answer to the TUV MLA Jim Allister, the NI Justice Minister, David Ford, has revealed his intention to consult on the matter. Here’s the question and answer from Hansard
Mr Allister asked the Minister of Justice for his assessment of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland’s intention to expand his remit by acquiring supervision powers for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Ford: Arrangements for governance of the Public Prosecution Service are founded on the Justice ( Northern Ireland) Act 2002 and came into effect on the devolution of justice matters. Some concerns have been expressed about those arrangements from a number of sources, and the First Minister, deputy First Minister, Attorney General and I have therefore agreed that the Department of Justice will lead a consultation on governance/accountability arrangements for the Public Prosecution Service. The consultation will consider options for the future and invite views.
There doesn’t appear to be a date for that “consultation” yet…