Former Minister says London ‘running down the clock’ on justice
Former Minister says London ‘running down the clock’ on justice


Former British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has confirmed that inquests into suspected British war crimes are being “deliberately delayed” until new cover-up legislation kicks in.

In office from 2005 to 2007 and now a Tory peer, Peter Hain said he had been told “authoritatively” that key legacy inquests are being held up so they lapse as the new legislation stipulates on May 1.

“Is this not a disgraceful way to treat victims of the Troubles who have suffered so much already?” he asked in the House of Lords.

The inquests are being delayed by the PSNI and other British state bodies who are “running down the clock” until the deadline in ten weeks time when they will be discontinued, according to Hain.

The highly controversial law, the ‘Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act’, says any inquests that have not reached a verdict by that date will cease.

In the House of Lords, Hain asked a current Direct Rule minister if he was not “embarrassed by the fact that state bodies appear to be openly running down the clock to May 1st” to avoid due process until the “shameful” Legacy Act kicks in.

“In one case, a ministry of defence official told an inquest that ‘we only have a single officer supporting Northern Ireland inquests’,” he said.

“And in another, the legal representative of the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland] admitted that further resources could be deployed and more progress made, but said in terms ‘what’s the point’?

“Is this not a disgraceful way to treat victims of the Troubles who have suffered so much already?”

Disclosure delays by state agencies continue to hold up several inquests. This week the long-awaited restart date for an inquest into the murder of two Catholic men was put back, crushing hopes that truth and justice will ever emerge in the cases.

Kevin McKearney and his uncle Jack McKearney died after a gun attack by a loyalist death squad at a family-run butchers shop in Moy in January 1992.

It has emerged that Robin ‘the Jackal’ Jackson, who was a British state agent, was confirmed in MI5 material as the gunman in the McKearney murders.

Eight months later Charlie Fox and his wife Tess, who were Kevin McKearney’s in-laws, were gunned down in their home, near Moy, also by the same UVF murder gang.

Both inquests have been delayed due to the failure of state agencies, including the PSNI, to hand over vital material.

Under the British government’s notorious Legacy Act, which was passed last year, all inquests that have not reached their findings stage by May 1 will be halted.

Jackson, who died 1998, was a key figure in the notorious Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC (now PSNI) and British Army, and is believed to have been responsible for killing up to 120 people.

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