Legal challenge put back as judge grants Karen Bradley’s application

Sir Anthony Hart with Geraldine Doherty and David Lane CBE. (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)
Sir Anthony Hart with Geraldine Doherty and David Lane CBE. (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press)

A legal challenge to the ongoing failure to compensate survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland is to be put back until November, a High Court judge ruled on Monday.

Proceedings aimed to compelling the secretary of state to implement a major inquiry’s recommendations in the absence of devolution were due to be heard this week.

But Mr Justice McCloskey granted an application by Karen Bradley to adjourn proceedings amid steps to introduce legislation enabling civil servants to take major decisions.

He rejected claims that it was an attempt to stymie the legal action. The judge stressed, however, that if necessary, the case will resume “no later than November”.

The case has been brought on behalf of those molested in children’s homes.

In 2017 the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry concluded there should be a public apology to all who suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse between 1922 to 1995, and compensation ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.

Inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart has since made repeated pleas to politicians to act on his recommendations and provide the financial, social and educational support as a matter of urgency.

Earlier this year the head of the civil service revealed work was under way on draft legislation around the inquiry’s proposals.

Legal action is being taken in a bid to have the secretary of state and executive office ordered to take immediate steps to implement the redress scheme.

Lawyers representing one of the victims contend there is a obligation to propose an early date for Assembly elections.

The secretary of state maintains, however, that the redress issue is a matter for the devolved administration.

In the House of Commons last week, Mrs Bradley set out legislative plans to provide civil servants with greater decision-making powers.

Lawyers alleged that Mrs Bradley is in breach of a legal obligation to set a date for Stormont elections.

Granting the sought adjournment, Mr Justice McCloskey directed the secretary of state’s representatives to provide an update report by October 22.