Cover-up fears in on-the-runs probe

DUP MP Ian Paisley
DUP MP Ian Paisley

A government official’s refusal to appear before a probe into the on the runs scheme for fugitive IRA members will fuel fears of a cover-up, an MP has said.

An NIO civil servant who signed a letter which led to the collapse of the IRA Hyde Park bombing prosecution is not expected to give evidence to the department’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday despite being officially summoned.

Under the last Labour government, the NIO ran a scheme formulated at the request of Sinn Fein which saw about 200 letters sent to republicans assuring them they were not being pursued by the UK authorities.

Committee member DUP MP Ian Paisley said the public wanted reassurance over openness and appealed for the official and a colleague, who were involved in running the scheme under ministerial direction, to come forward.

“If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it is a duck and if it walks like a conspiracy and talks like a conspiracy then it is a conspiracy.

“Those officials will only add fuel to flames, that there is a conspiracy by the NIO to conceal something.”