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NI's human rights chief says legacy plans might not be legal

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Concerns: Les Allamby

Concerns: Les Allamby

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Concerns: Les Allamby

Northern Ireland's human rights chief has said the government risks breaking the law with plans to limit the prosecution of soldiers who served during the Troubles.

Les Allamby reportedly made the comments in a letter to the shadow Secretary of State Louise Haigh.

Mr Allamby, chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, referred to "deep initial concerns" about how government plans will satisfy European human rights law on investigating deaths caused by the state, the Guardian said.

In March, the Government announced proposals that would close nearly 2,000 Troubles cases and prevent them from ever being reopened.

A significant departure from plans set out in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, it would see unsolved cases assessed by a new independent body.

Only those with compelling new evidence and a realistic chance of prosecution would get a full investigation.

In his letter, Mr Allamby called this "puzzling and troublesome".

Objections have already been raised by victims groups as well as the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Labour has warned against any blanket approach that does not have community support in Northern Ireland.

In her correspondence, Ms Haigh said: "In dealing with the painful legacy of the past, there must be no decision about Northern Ireland without Northern Ireland, and the voice of victims must be heard when decisions are taken in Westminster. They must not be an afterthought."

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee will be scrutinising the plans.

Mr Lewis appeared before the committee via video-link yesterday, but the session focused on Covid-19.

A UK Government spokesperson told the Guardian the approach was legal, and that any case with a realistic prospect of conviction would be pursued.

Belfast Telegraph