Northern Ireland written question – answered on 4th March 2014.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

(1) what evidence she has identified on whether John Downey's letter was issued in error; and what assessment she has made of whether other such letters have not similarly been issued in error;

(2) for what reason letters of comfort were issued to on-the-runs despite the absence of a police force intending to arrest or question them;

(3) which Minister is currently responsible for oversight of the letters of comfort issued to on-the-runs;

(4) who first authorised the issue of letters of comfort to on-the-runs.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

On 27 February, the Prime Minister announced that a judge would be appointed to undertake an independent review to provide a full public account of the operation and extent of the administrative scheme for dealing with so called "on-the-runs" that was established by the previous Government. This will include a factual check of all letters issued. I expect the report to be provided to me by the end of May 2014 for the purpose of its full publication.

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