Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 16th January 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down 4:30 pm, 16th January 2007

I am grateful to the Minister for that intervention, which I invited, because he confirmed, as we believed, that there are no circumstances that he can at present envisage in which the DPP would not issue a certificate. We are trying to clarifying the legislation so that it builds confidence. I entirely share the Minister’s view that trying to get the balance right is a matter of caution—he used that word—and that may build some confidence in the criminal justice system among victims. We are talking about victims and their protection.

I see that the hon. Member for East Antrim is here on time, and very nice it is to see that. His nickname is “The late Member”. Both the hon. Gentleman and I have taken evidence in private and heard that there is real fear among the victims of organised crime, paramilitary  and ex-paramilitary crime, and intimidation. We should err on the side of the victim to build confidence in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. That means making it absolutely clear that when the DPP recognises that there is a threat to the administration of justice in Northern Ireland, and that one of the conditions set out in clause 1 is satisfied, he will do the right thing by the victim and the criminal justice system and issue a certificate. That cannot be done under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, save in very limited circumstances.