Belfast Telegraph

Tory uses Commons privilege to label DPP 'Sinn Fein supporter'

By Jack Maidment

A former Conservative minister has accused the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland of trying to "muzzle" Parliament.

Sir Gerald Howarth used parliamentary privilege to accuse Barra McGrory of "supporting" Sinn Fein.

Speaking during a statement from Secretary of State James Brokenshire on the Stormont crisis, Sir Gerald said: "To the extent that you have a locus in this matter, may I make a really fervent plea to you that you should protect the interests of former British soldiers currently being charged by the Sinn Fein-supporting Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland with murder for an offence which took place over 40 years ago."

Mr Brokenshire replied: "I will not comment on any individual decisions and, indeed, justice is devolved in Northern Ireland, but also it is independent and has its own processes that remain in place in an independent way.

"I hear very clearly the very general and very firm point that you make in relation to balance within the overall system and that is something that I am very keen to address."

In response to Sir Gerald, the PPS said: "The PPS in Northern Ireland is wholly independent of all political parties and the political system. As such, we would never seek to influence political debate on any subject in any way.

"Equally, we must take all appropriate steps to ensure that our decision-making processes are protected from political influence from any source. We are aware of Mr Howarth's political viewpoint in relation to the prosecution of cases involving soldiers, which is not enshrined in law in the UK.

"The PPS only applies the law as it currently stands in Northern Ireland, and does so without fear, favour or prejudice."

Belfast Telegraph


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