Terrorism: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Office written question – answered on 13th February 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the issue to persons from Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland of letters of comfort between 2000 and 2012, concerning earlier offences, why they still seek to prosecute politically motivated crimes committed before the ceasefires of 1994.

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

Lady Justice Hallett emphasised on a number of occasions in her report that the letters issued under the scheme established by the Labour Government were not an amnesty. They were not a commitment by the state that an individual would not be prosecuted, regardless of the case against them. They were only ever statements of fact as to whether an individual was wanted for arrest at a particular point in time. They were not intended to preclude investigation or prosecution on the basis of new evidence emerging after they were sent or fresh assessment of the existing evidence.

Those who received letters under the scheme should be in no doubt. If there is considered to be evidence or intelligence of their involvement in crime, they will be investigated by the police, and if the evidence is sufficient to warrant prosecution, they will be prosecuted.

This Government believes firmly in the rule of law, and that applies across the board to everyone, without fear or favour, including those in possession of letters issued under the administrative scheme.

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