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Independent judge to probe ‘on-the-run’ letters

David Cameron

David Cameron

A judge will be appointed to investigate the operation of a Government scheme to deal with on-the-run republicans, David Cameron has announced.

The Prime Minister said he accepted calls for a “full, independent examination” of the process after Democratic Unionist (DUP) First Minister Peter Robinson threatened to resign.

Details of 187 letters sent to so-called on-the-run republicans (OTRs), assuring them that they would not be prosecuted if they returned to Northern Ireland, emerged when a case against a man charged with the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bomb collapsed.

“I agree with the First Minister of Northern Ireland that, after the terrible error in the (John) Downey case, it is right to get to the bottom of what happened,” Mr Cameron said.

“The case has already been referred to the Police Ombudsman but, as the First Minister has said, we should have a full, independent examination of the whole operation of this scheme.

“So I can announce today that we will appoint an independent judge to produce a full public account of the operation of this administrative scheme to determine whether any other letters were sent in error.”

The judge will be given “full access to government files and officials” and will report by May, Mr Cameron said, with the findings being published.

 

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