If the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland [and Wales, etc! – Ed], Peter Hain, MP, thought his recent controversial remarks about Lord Justice Girvan had been forgotten about, he’s had to think again. As a statement from his publisher reveals
On 20 March 2012 Lord Justice Higgins granted leave to the Attorney General of Northern Ireland to bring proceedings for contempt of court against Biteback Publishing and Peter Hain. The proceedings relate to a passage in Peter Hain’s memoir, OUTSIDE IN, in which Peter Hain makes critical remarks about the Northern Irish judge, Judge Girvan (now Lord Justice Girvan), relating in particular to a 2006 Judicial Review case heard by Judge Girvan regarding the appointment of Bertha MacDougall as Interim Victims Commissioner.
According to the Statement filed by the Attorney General in the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, the passages in the book “constitute unwarranted abuse of a judge in his judicial capacity that undermines the administration of justice in this jurisdiction, and consequently constitute a contempt of court” and publication of the passages “create without justification a real risk that public confidence in the judicial system will be undermined”. According to the Attorney General, the contempt of court has been aggravated by public comments made by Mr Hain since the book was published. The Attorney General of Northern Ireland “accordingly considers it appropriate that the author and publisher of ‘Outside In’ should be punished for contempt of court”.
The case is listed for review by the Divisional Court in Belfast on 24 April 2012.