NI Attorney General: “Article 50 trigger – will ‘amend not a comma or a full stop of the 1998 Act’.”

As with the Belfast High Court, so with the UK Supreme Court…  NI Attorney General John Larkin has been repeating the argument.  From the BBC text coverage from the Supreme Court Northern Ireland’s attorney general, John Larkin, is continuing to make his case that none of the legislative or constitutional arrangements underpinning devolution should stand in the way of the UK government triggering Article 50. The 1998 Northern Ireland Act, which set up the NI Assembly and NI executive, made … Read more

NI Attorney General on post-brexit future: “not one word or phrase in the Belfast Agreement” would be affected

There might be another, somewhat related, reason why Sinn Féin delegated their now-backbench MLA, John O’Dowd, to front the party’s support for the High Court legal action against Brexit – as a party of the NI Executive they may have seen legal advice from the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, John Larkin, QC. Earlier reports seemed to suggest that, having “written to the parties indicating his belief the cases raise a devolution issue around constitutional arrangements“, and the applicants subsequent agreement to a notice … Read more

“We say it’s highly improper and unorthodox, effectively OFMDFM are seeking to resist the grant of leave against the Department of Justice.”

A Belfast High Court judge has adjourned the application for a judicial review of the controversial new law criminalising the paying for sex following a last minute intervention by the Northern Ireland Attorney General on behalf of the Office of the NI First and Deputy First Ministers (OFMDFM). Interestingly, as the BBC report notes A barrister representing the [NI Department of Justice] confirmed it was not opposing Ms Lee’s application for a judicial review of the new law, on the basis that an arguable … Read more

Elections: a good time to bury controversial news?

Over the last few days whilst we have all been engrossed in all things electoral a couple of somewhat controversial announcements have occurred with relatively little notice. On Wednesday just before the polls opened the PPS announced it was dropping all charges against flag protest leader Willie Frazer some 15 months after his initial arrest. Meanwhile on Thursday OFMDFM announced that John Larkin had been reappointed as attorney general. Elections: a good time to bury controversial if not necessarily bad … Read more

Those wanting a formal amnesty might start by having the honesty and the decency to ask out loud…

Yesterday was notable for people in the British press taking notice of the Attorney General’s unpopular intervention with his suggestion of an amnesty that isn’t quite an amnesty. David Aaronovitch (pointing out that the Old Bailey trial of John Downey is about to commence on January 14th) had this to say in his column in The Times: There is something odd about an Attorney-General, for whatever motives, not defending the process of justice. Politicians have to make shabby compromises, but … Read more

“His independent role has on occasions required him to take actions against the Executive…”

In the Belfast Telegraph Liam Clarke picked up on this exchange during questions to the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers in the Assembly on Monday.  The topic was the review, by Dame Elish Angiolini, Lord Advocate of Scotland until 2011, of the Office of the NI Attorney General, the report on which was delivered to OFMDFM in October 2012.  Here’s the relevant section from Hansard. Mr Attwood: Given the current Attorney General’s inclination to join in Supreme Court cases, European … Read more

Memo to Richard Haass: Greater openness in dealing with the past is long overdue

This call for a swift cross border public inquiry into the Omagh bombing by the British ambassador to Dublin at the time carries weight.  But enough to succeed? “Material which the families presented to the British and Irish governments over a year ago, so far without response, suggests failings in MI5, the Garda and the FBI.” Fifteen years ago, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern made clear no stone would be left unturned in the search for the perpetrators. This hollow promise … Read more

Clash over inquests between the coroner and the Attorney General to be resolved in High Court

Good news for the families, that a new inquest will be held on the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, on application by the Attorney General for England and Wales Dominic Grieve to the High Court in London. The lord chief justice said it was “inevitable” that the emergence of fresh evidence about how and why the 96 victims died made it “desirable and reasonable for a fresh inquest to be heard”. “However distressing or unpalatable, the truth will be brought … Read more

Don’t play legalistic games with abortion

Strange – or maybe not so strange – that the overwhelmingly male Slugger blogosphere tends to  prefer the sectarian dingdong  to difficult social issues like abortion which the Assembly and the legal establishment between them actually affect. But if constitutional issues are your bag, there’s now something in the subject for you too. After the opening of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast under an actually progressive unionist Dawn Purvis, the Attorney General John Larkin  weighed in with an offer to … Read more

Hain ‘clarifies’ comments in contempt of court case

Sort of…  After the bluster from various political and media sources over, the “statutorily independent” NI Attorney General, John Larkin’s decision to charge former Secretary of State for Wales, etc, Peter Hain, MP, and his publisher, with contempt of court over remarks in Mr Hain’s autobiography, the BBC has news from the High Court. Former NI Secretary Peter Hain has written to Attorney General John Larkin clarifying remarks he made about a high court judge in his memoirs. He said it … Read more

NI Attorney General: “Citizens are entitled to have confidence in the administration of justice”

Conveniently, neither the Northern Ireland First or deputy First Ministers, nor either of their juniors, were available to the NI Assembly on Monday to answer Jim Allister’s pointed question on their continued confidence, or otherwise, in the “statutorily independent” NI Attorney General, John Larkin.  [As open and transparent as possible! – Ed]  There’s been no such reticence from others.  The NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson,  has criticised the cost of the Attorney General’s contempt of court proceedings against the former Secretary of … Read more

“the First Minister, deputy First Minister, Attorney General and I have therefore agreed…”

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 … Read more

NI Attorney General: ‘gap in the system introduced by the devolution of justice’

Northern Ireland’s new Attorney General, John Larkin, was giving evidence to the Assembly’s Justice Committee today.  And, as the BBC notes, he repeated his concerns about his lack of oversight powers over the Public Prosecution Service. Last month, Mr Larkin said he might not have all the powers he needed. Unlike his direct rule predecessor, he will not have any powers of supervision over the Public Prosecution Service. Mr Larkin told the committee that in contrast to the position before 11 April, … Read more

Former solicitor up for director of public prosecutions

Barra McGrory QC is reported to be interested in post of Director of Public Prosecutions. He ran his own law firm for 22 years. McGrory trained as a solicitor and worked from his qualification in his father’s practice in Belfast city centre. He is the son of the distinguished solicitor Paddy McGrory, who represented the families of those shot dead by undercover soldiers in Gibraltar, including Mairead Farrell. Barra McGrory had run the law firm in the wake of his father’s death … Read more

New NI Attorney General Sworn In

As the BBC notes, Northern Ireland’s new Attorney General John Larkin was sworn in at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast today. After taking the oath, Mr Larkin pledged his full backing for the independence of barristers. “I intend to support our independent bar to the best of my ability,” he said. “What I do want to do here is to declare my firm view that an independent bar is a strong and protective force in and for the … Read more

New NI Attorney General Appointed, Queries Missing Powers

Nominated as the new Northern Ireland Attorney General in November 2008, John Larkin was finally appointed today.  UTV has his initial “grateful” comments.  But the BBC notes that he’s already noticed that something’s missing… Unlike his direct rule predecessor, Mr Larkin will not have any powers of supervision over the Public Prosecution Service. “It’s something that should be urgently looked at I think,” Mr Larkin said. “The decisions about unduly lenient sentences, about other forms of statutory obligation, which were taken by the attorney … Read more