Legal precedent lies at the heart of our legal process, shaping future decisions.
Equally central is the concept that decisions are made on the basis of arguments being legally sound and that such arguments hold sway.
Thus, the decision of McCloskey J to recuse himself from the Loughinisland judicial review, even though the arguments for doing so were flawed and fell well short of the legal test, is troubling, both in itself and in the precedent it could set for the law being seen to succumb to unwarranted orchestrated demands.
The law taking its course “without fear or favour” is vital to public confidence. Let’s hope the law does not now bend to placate insatiable demands by shaping its ultimate ruling accordingly.
Maintaining confidence in the law for the many as well as the few must not be compromised.
McCloskey J’s generous decision to step aside is all the more remarkable considering the extent of excoriation justifiably heaped on the recusal application belatedly put forward on behalf of the Ombudsman.
The fact that the question of recusal only arose once it was clear the Ombudsman had lost the case is a telling commentary in itself.
The Ombudsman’s office emerges from this saga diminished on every front and if ever there was a public official who should be considering his position it is Dr Maguire.
Jim Allister, MLA, North Antrim