‘Brokenshire should respect impartiality of justice’, says Ford

Pacemaker Press Belfast 05-10-2016: Former Alliance Party leader David Ford. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 05-10-2016: Former Alliance Party leader David Ford. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Alliance MLA David Ford has criticised comments on the balance of prosecutions arising from legacy investigations made by the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire.

David Ford said: “Politicians have a duty to support the impartial operation of the institutions of the Justice system. The comments from James Brokenshire on prosecutions come perilously close to interfering in the rule of law.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Brokenshire said inquiries were “not working” and he backed the “vast majority” of soldiers and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as having served with “distinction”.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s legacy investigation branch is looking into more than 3,200 killings in the province between 1969 and 2004.

Numerous former soldiers are among those facing prosecution for killings.

“I am clear the current system is not working and we are in danger of seeing the past rewritten,” Mr Brokenshire wrote.

Responding, Alliance MLA David Ford said: “The police, whether PSNI, Garda or forces in Great Britain, have the duty to investigate crime and prepare reports for the prosecution services, who have a duty to consider the evidence before them without fear or favour. If evidence exists of serious crimes being committed, then the alleged perpetrators must be brought to court.”

The former Justice Minister added: “It appears the Secretary of State is following his cabinet colleague, the Lord Chancellor, who failed to defend the integrity of High Court judges when they were attacked by tabloid papers and called ‘enemies of the people’ for doing their duty and upholding the law.

“This is depressing when the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland set out the position of the justice system so clearly just a few days ago. I trust the Minister of Justice will now defend the integrity of the PSNI, the PPS and the judiciary, and make clear the Secretary of State is wrong.”