So, the #ShinnersList is real, legal but not an enforceable amnesty…
The police had realised they had made a mistake, but the assurance to the County Donegal man was never withdrawn.
“Nothing in law or logic” explained their failure to rectify the error, Lady Justice Hallett said.
“The administrative scheme was kept ‘below the radar’ due to its political sensitivity, but it would be wrong to characterise the scheme as ‘secret’,” she said.
She added: “If there was a lack of clarity and openness, responsibility lies with the UK government.”
Adds: UTV report, with some telling detail…
The Hallett report noted: “The fact that Mr Justice Sweeney stayed the case against Mr Downey as an abuse of process does not mean that any future prosecution of another individual who was sent a similar letter would necessarily amount to an abuse of process.
“Each case will turn on its own facts.”
“It has the potential of being a get-out-of-jail card for the two that Lady Justice Hallett refers to as being ‘in error’. It has the potential of being a get-out-of-jail-free card for the others who were not given the caveat that was entered in some of the personal letters that were sent out,” he said.
“And indeed it has the potential of being a get-out-of-jail-free card for anyone who has received a letter, because no one knows whether it would amount to an abuse of process application being accepted by a future judge.”
Staying a case, of course, is not quite the same as saying there are no grounds for prosecution…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty