Mr Justice McCloskey’s decision to step aside from the case relating to the report on the Loughinisland massacre, even though the legal test has not been satisfied, raises serious questions for the administration of justice in Northern Ireland.
The issue arose because he had previously been involved in a similar case against the Police Ombudsman’s office in 2002 and as a result, it was argued that there was a potential public perception of bias.
We live in a country that still has deep divisions and allegations and perceptions of bias are an inevitable fact of life.
The fact that Barra McGrory previously represented senior Sinn Fein figures proved no barrier to his later appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions and indeed he is now representing the Ombudsman in the very case from which Mr Justice McCloskey has just recused himself.
Many people will be forgiven for asking why the perception of bias in our legal system only seems to apply to those who have previously acted for the police and not to those who have previously acted for republicans.
Doug Beattie MC MLA, Ulster Unionist justice spokesperson