Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Alan Reid Alan Reid Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 5:15 pm, 16th January 2007

Amendment No. 7 would delete paragraphs (d) and (e), where an associate is defined as a friend or a relative. The amendment returns to a point that we made on Second Reading. I believe that the definition of “associate” is generally too broad and has to be tightened.

Paragraph (d) defines an “associate” as “a friend” and paragraph (e) as “a relative”, but how do we determine whether a person is a friend or relative of another person? The terms are open to many differing interpretations. For example, two people might be cousins but might not have seen each other since childhood. On the other hand, are we going to include second, third or fourth cousins? Where do we stop? That is an important issue as to whether or not a trial is conducted with a jury.

I want the Minister to tell us whether “friend” or “relative” have been used in other legislation. Is there a  legal precedent to determine their definition? Unless the Minister can convince us, the terms are far too vague to be included.