Judge to examine a sample of on the run cases

A judge's gavel
A judge's gavel

A judge investigating a Government scheme to deal with fugitive republicans will not be required to examine each individual case in detail or consider the lawfulness of letters sent to IRA suspects, official correspondence has indicated.

The exchanges between a senior official in the NIO and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales reveal exactly what the Government expects of the reviewing judge Lady Justice Heather Hallett.

With Stormont politicians having disagreed on what the probe will deliver, the letters between Julian King, the director general of the NIO, and Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd provide the fullest detail to date.

David Cameron announced the probe in the wake of the controversy triggered by the collapse of a case against John Downey from Co Donegal who was accused over the IRA’s 1982 Hyde Park bomb.

Mr Downey had been wrongly informed that authorities in the UK were not looking for him.

Many politicians at Stormont, particularly unionists, reacted furiously, claiming they knew nothing about the administrative scheme.

In a letter Mr King wrote to Lord Thomas earlier this month, he said it was for the reviewer to decide how to carry out the remit.

“It is envisaged that to produce a public account of the scheme the reviewer will not need to examine the detail of every individual case dealt with under the scheme, but will look at a sample of cases from across the scheme.”

Mr King added: “Decisions in respect of arrest and prosecution were and are a matter for the police and prosecuting authorities.”