I’m not sure if the departure of a Baroness from the crap table of UK Jurisprudence the other day was expected or not. Given my own recent mutterings about the happenstance of a judge asked to conduct a BBC Inquiry into the actions of a dead man also being the same judge who had found a dead doctor guilty of 400 murders after the doctor was dead, left me none too qualified to pontificate on behalf of another Establishment Grandee.
Someone else much better qualified has pontificated on the subject however. He is Peter Garsden, an eminent civil lawyer.
It was Peter’s conclusion and suggestion of an Alternative Inquiry Leader that really caught my attention however.
It caught my attention especially because of another news-story that was cultivated by the departure of Butler-Sloss.
The brother of a retired judge who quit her post as chair of an inquiry into historic sex abuse tried to limit an official investigation into Kincora Boys’ Home, it has been revealed.
Now, I am no expert on the Kincora Scandal, although it has been bubbling away like a good Irish Stew since the 1980’s. The thing is that you don’t need to be an expert to join a few dots these days, because the Internet has a way of doing it for you. All you have to do is to see if the dots can be lined into make a pattern that actually might mean something more than a pretty pattern. So, here’s my house of cards.
“The Troubles” in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998 have left more than one historical problem. One of them arose in 1980, and that involved allegations of sexual abuse. Kincora has remained a minor media cause-celebre ever since, potentially invoking members of the British Establishment, just as many other sexual abuse allegations have done since 2012, and the emergence of the Jimmy Savile allegations and the activities of the Metropolitan Police in Operation Yewtree.
But there are many more serious Historical Allegations about Murder in Northern Ireland, and they involve a different Operation. It was called Operation Rapid:
In February 2007, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) began Operation Rapid, the operational name for a review of people regarded as “wanted” in connection with terrorist-related offences before the Good Friday Agreement. The review examined what basis, if any, the PSNI had to seek the arrest of individuals identified by Sinn Féin to the government and passed to the chief constable. The then secretary of state, Peter Hain wanted the scheme to be run in secret. The PSNI had prepared a statement for journalists, should the scheme get into the public domain, but the work was never disclosed.
However, whilst Operation Rapid did not begin until 2007, the problem had been fermenting for six years before that.
In May 2000, Prime Minister Tony Blair told Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams that if he provided details of those on the run, these would be examined by the attorney general in consultation with the police and the director of public prosecutions, “with a view to giving a response within a month if at all possible”… Senior legal figures were not happy with the approach. The attorney general wrote to Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson saying he was:
“Seriously concerned” that the scheme could severely undermine confidence in the criminal justice system… Mandelson’s successor John Reid was also warned by the attorney general in 2002 that it could not become an amnesty and every case would have to be dealt with on the merits of the evidence.
This whole conundrum of men believed to be murderers NOT being prosecuted became a bargaining chip in the efforts to persuade the IRA to finally ‘decommission’ their weapons. The weapons have been decommissioned and, it seems, men suspected of murder were agreed to not be prosecuted. In the full sweep of history this might be viewed as a worthy Faustian Pact to make. After all, what price the lives of the future children of Ulster? Perhaps enough blood had been spilled and enough lives wasted in prisons. I’m no more qualified to pontificate on the merits of these decisions than anyone else in my position.
However, there is so much Pontificating going on these days in England and much of the greatest Pontificating seems to have been performed by the recently ex-leader of the CPS in England & Wales who created the current Moral Panic about believing “Victims” and a determination that no crime goes unpunished, no matter how many years have passed.
That man is Keir Starmer. But guess what?
From 2003-2008, Keir was the human rights advisor to the Policing Board in Northern Ireland and worked with the Policing Board to ensure that the Police Service of Northern Ireland fully complied with its obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998.
This same man must have known all about the secret deals going on between the British Government and the leaders of the IRA and Sinn Fein – mustn’t he?
The board’s representatives completed a study on how the service was coping with integrating the 1998 Human Rights Act. Police compliance has been strengthened by an internal Code of Ethics introduced as part of attempts to reform the force, they found. A framework for checking police performance was developed and published by Mr Starmer and Ms Gordon in December 2003.
Now, the outsider might take a look at my line of dots and remark that whilst a prima-facie case exists that Keir Starmer was privy to possible murderers not being prosecuted, and victims and their families seeing no justice was to be done, might exist… it seems quite likely that as a mere “Human Rights Advisor” he would not have been privy to really secret stuff. Well, that is not his version of events is all I can say,
In 2002, I became Queen’s Counsel.At that stage, I branched out and became the human rights advisor to the Policing Board in Northern Ireland. My job was to monitor whether the newly formed Police Service of Northern Ireland (replacing the RUC) complied with the Human Rights Act. I attended operations on the ground, had access to all documents and published my findings.
In such a position, can we really believe that he would not have known anything about the deals going on. Not a whisper? Not a suspicion even? For ten years nearly. He must have known about Operation Rapid – a formal police operation that began in Starmer’s final year of involvement with the PSNI, and one which must have had huge implications associated with “Human Rights”. All of this becomes especially moot when you consider that this man also is insisting that other people be prosecuted simply for what he claims they know.
Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions, has told a BBC programme that teachers and other professionals who do not report child abuse suspicions should face prosecution. Mr Starmer has told an edition of the BBC programme Panorama that a British “mandatory reporting” law, could lead to those who offended being sent to jail.
So, when Peter Garsden was recommending this man as his choice for revealing all about Historical Crimes, did he actually know who he was talking about? Or was the choice merely such an obviously advantageous one, that it was irresistible.
The machinations of the law are indeed a marvel to behold though because look what we now find to be the case in 2014:
It is understood the investigations which Dr Maguire contends are being frustrated include the UVF murders of six people who were watching the Ireland versus Italy World Cup game at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in 1994 and the IRA murder of RUC constable Colleen McMurray in Newry, Co Down, in 1992. Dr Maguire is being represented by the former director of prosecutions for England and Wales, Keir Starmer QC.
One thing seems for sure in the UK of the 21st century.
Hypocrisy only seems to apply to Us, not those who sit in judgement upon us.