Jeffrey Donaldson: The impartiality of the Public Prosecution Service is in question after soldier decision

Public Prosection Service PPS
Public Prosection Service PPS

The decision by the Public Prosecution Service to prosecute Dennis Hutchings for attempted murder gives me great cause for concern about the impartiality of the PPS.

As a public representative of many years standing, I have always supported our legal and judicial system, unlike some who for many years refused to recognise the courts and support the rule of law.

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory arriving for the funeral of Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry on March 23.  The role of the PPS in legacy matters is now a matter for the DUP in Stormont talks now says Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the same applies to Mr McGrory, because as head of the department, he is ultimately responsible for every decision that his prosecutors take. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory arriving for the funeral of Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry on March 23. The role of the PPS in legacy matters is now a matter for the DUP in Stormont talks now says Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the same applies to Mr McGrory, because as head of the department, he is ultimately responsible for every decision that his prosecutors take. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Dennis Hutchings has twice been investigated in this case and twice told he had no case to answer.

Recently, an experienced district judge ruled that Mr Hutchings should not stand trial for attempted murder.

The decision of the PPS to go against the judge raises serious questions about their impartiality and there are many in the community who are now losing confidence in the ability of the PPS to take a balanced approach to legacy cases, myself included.

In the absence of a functioning Executive, we will be raising this matter urgently with the secretary of state as he has responsibility for taking forward proposals to deal with legacy cases.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in the House of Commons

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in the House of Commons

The role of the PPS in relation to legacy cases has now become a major issue for us in the negotiations about how we deal with our troubled past.

The same applies to the director, because as head of the department, he is ultimately responsible for every decision that his prosecutors take.

• Sir Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP has been MP for Lagan Valley since 1997. He is a candidate there again in this election

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