Terrorism: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Office written question – answered on 5th February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement by Baroness Randerson on 27 January that the "on-the-runs" scheme had been closed down in an orderly manner (HL Deb, col 130), what steps they took, and over what time period, to close down the scheme.

Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Lords Spokesperson (Northern Ireland Office), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

When the Government took office in May 2010, we allowed the administrative scheme to deal with so-called ‘on the runs’ established by the previous administration in 2000 to continue. We did this on the basis that the letters issued under the scheme did not confer immunity, exemption or amnesty from prosecution. In August 2012, the then-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Attorney-General decided that it would not be appropriate for the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to accept any new cases, and that any fresh cases should be referred directly to the devolved police and prosecuting authorities. No letters have been issued by the NIO since December 2012, and on 7 March 2014 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland confirmed the scheme was an end. On publication of the Hallett Report on 17 July 2014, the Secretary of State repeated that, as far as this Government are concerned, the scheme is over.

In response to the recommendation in the Hallett report to confirm whether any element of the ‘on the runs’ scheme still exists, the Secretary of State made clear in her statement of 9 September 2014 that the scheme is now at an end. Recipients of letters under the scheme should not place any reliance on them as a protection against prosecution should the required evidential tests be met.

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