#ShinnersList finally closed back in December 2012…

So, to clarify. Here’s BBC confirming that the Secretary of State saying the #ShinnersList scheme is over:

“No letters have been issued by the NIO since December 2012… and as far as this government is concerned, the scheme is over,” she said.

“If, at any time, we had been presented with a scheme that amounted to immunity, exemption or amnesty from prosecution … implied or otherwise … we would have stopped it immediately.”

To provide a hint of what this might mean in practice, the last written question lodged on this matter by Sinn Fein in the Oireachtas was in July 2012.

The scheme is over, in the sense that all the letters are done and out with the concerned individuals. Not quite what Ian Paisley was projecting tonight on the The View.

  • cynic2

    Last week we were told there were only 3 cases in process.

    Where did they go? Have they been rejected? Will SF JR the NIO?

    More spin mirrors and simple obfuscation.

    Dear Theresa, When in a hole, stop digging

  • Was the Prime Minister not briefed about this position before he spoke in the Commons last week?

    It would seem that greater clarity needs to be provided about the precise nature of the PSNI’s role in the affair:

    However, sources familiar with Operation Rapid, say the assurance given by the NIO went further than the information provided to it by the PSNI.

    They say the team’s remit was to do two things:

    To establish whether John Downey was wanted by the PSNI. The answer was no.

    To establish whether the PSNI had been asked to arrest John Downey on behalf of another UK police force. The answer was no.

    Sources say the PSNI wrote to the prosecution service stating that it did not want to arrest or question John Downey, but they insist it did not say he was not wanted by any other UK police force.

    “Why would we have done that,” says one source. “It was our job to determine whether named individuals were wanted for questioning within our jurisdiction and that is what we did. [BBC NI 27.02.2014]

    Should this claim be accurate would the Chief Constable have to retract his apology and offer an alternative one?

    Does the position of the Minister of Justice (and other ministers) need some attention? According to Treasury best practice Departmental Boards are to be chaired by ministers yet Stormont ministers don’t even attend these top-level meetings

  • OOPS. That last post took off before I added the link!

    Northern Ireland Governance – The Belfast Deficit

  • Can the NIA committee bring greater clarity to the process? With so many links in the communication chain, the messages can easily be corrupted accidentally or deliberately.

    A Westminster inquiry into the IRA comfort letters could begin within a fortnight … Mr Robertson told the News Letter that he understood First Minister Peter Robinson was “quite happy with the news”. And he said that the committee — which unlike the Prime Minister’s inquiry can compel unwilling witnesses to attend — was likely to call former Prime Minister Tony Blair, his chief of staff Jonathan Powell, former Secretary of State Peter Hain, the law officers at the time, police officers, civil servants, current Conservative ministers and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I saw IPJ on The View last night and I think the DUP are taking a risk by being very disingenuous about this. The letters are not rescinded and if there is another court case where it turns out that another person gets off – and there are allegations that at least one further wrongly-issued comfort letter is out there – people are going to be asking the DUP why they gave the public this assurance when it turned out not to be true.

    The DUP are interpreting the Secretary of State’s comments about ending the comfort letter scheme as having said that the letters are practically rescinded, if not formally rescinded. There is no basis upon which to come to that conclusion.

    The court judgement basically says, in a nutshell, that when a senior public servant leads someone to believe something, that this must be upheld. It strikes me that not even the Secretary of State has the authority to ask a court to disregard this fact, as this would be asking the court to set aside what it has already determined to be in the public interest, and also makes things complicated by appearing to act retroactively.

    The only way this could be done would be for Parliament to pass legislation to the effect that a court may not regard a promise given by a public servant to be relevant when applying a public interest test. This would be a gross interference in the independence of the courts and would be a restriction on their freedom to approach matters of this kind flexibly.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Gerry Kelly just announced that Army bomb disposal officers had in fact defused letters addressed to OTRs…