How Many HET Investigations have been Thwarted by Comfort Letters?

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:

“I have today written to the Chief Constable asking how many HET investigations have been impacted by the issuing of “comfort letters” to “on the runs”. It is essential that victims have clarity on this point.

“I have also written to the Attorney General, John Larkin QC, today asking if since coming to office he has been involved in any way in the “administrative scheme”.

“Finally I have written to the Secretary of State in the terms outlined below.

“It is particularly important that item 7 in the bundle of papers supplied to the court in R-v-Downey, as identified at paragraph 5 of the judgement as “Two files of disclosed materials in relation to the relevant negotiations in the Northern Ireland peace process ” are made public. I expect to obtain clear answers from all concerned and will be pressing the Secretary of State on these matters when I meet her next week.”

Note to editors

Mr Allister’s letter to the Secretary of State is as follows:

Dear Secretary of State,

Re: R-v-Downey

I write to you to raise issues arising from the revelations in R-v-Downey.

As I hope you have realised the ramifications of this case are considerable. It confirms to many the skulduggery upon which the so called ‘peace process’ is constructed. Secret deals, where IRA/Sinn Fein was evidently calling the shots, have corrupted not just the political process, but also the judicial and justice process, causing great resulting damage to public confidence. The catalogue of intrigue set forth in the judgement of Sweeney J is quite shocking.

As Secretary of State I suggest you need to act. These revelations to many are but the tip of an iceberg of tawdry deals and concessions to terrorists. If you wish to see any confidence in the ‘peace process’ then transparency and honesty are essential. Accordingly, on foot of the revelations in the Downey case I am calling on you to establish a public Judicial Inquiry into not just how the OTR issue was handled, but also the wider issue of the conduct of the entire ‘peace process’. When innocent victims know they and their rights were trampled over, so that the victim-makers might be satisfied, then, you have much to do to restore any semblance of confidence. Only a proper public inquiry can hope to do so and demonstrate that government is not still in the business of cover up and intrigue.

In the meantime I believe you need to take some immediate steps and provide some pertinent information:-

1. Will you now confirm the precise number of ‘comfort letters’ sought, the number issued, the date of each, and the name of each beneficiary?

2. Can you break down the information sought at 1 above  into the period when Labour was in government and the period since the present government came into office?

3. Have the families of all victims in connection with the crimes for which the beneficiary of ‘comfort letters’  were at some points wanted, been informed that such letters have issued, and. if not, will they be informed?

4. As an interim measure will HMG now make public item 7 in the bundle of papers supplied to the court in R-v-Downey, as identified at paragraph 5 of the judgement as “Two files of disclosed materials in relation to the relevant negotiations in the Northern Ireland peace process, the circumstances in which the defendant was provided with the letter dated 20 July 2007, and what was realised after the letter was released.” Or, do you intend to cover this up?

5. Now that the trial is over, will the witness statements be released, particularly those of Jonathan Powell, Gerry Kelly and Peter Hain?

6. Will you publish the Terms of Reference of Operation Rapid?

7. What has become of the HET investigation which identified an interest in Downey in respect of an Enniskillen bombing and has Downey now got immunity on that too?

I look forward to discussing these matters when we meet next week.

Yours sincerely,

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