Belfast Telegraph

Victims' campaigner bids to intervene in London Supreme Court Brexit case

Raymond McCord in Belfast following the dismissal of his case that argued the Government’s Brexit strategy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process (Brian Lawless/PA)
Raymond McCord in Belfast following the dismissal of his case that argued the Government’s Brexit strategy will damage the Northern Ireland peace process (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Alan Erwin

Victims' campaigner Raymond McCord will attempt to intervene when the Supreme Court examines the lawfulness of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to close parliament, he announced on Thursday night.

The Belfast man has decided to seek permission to be heard at next week's proceedings in London as part of his wider legal bid to halt a no-deal Brexit.

He confirmed the plans after a senior judge dismissed his challenge to any departure from the EU without an agreement.

Lord Justice McCloskey ruled that it involved political matters on which the courts should not intervene.

Mr McCord was seeking to judicially review the Prime Minister and UK government, claiming that a no-deal exit on October 31 would threaten the Northern Ireland peace process.

His case was one of three linked challenges rejected at the High Court in Belfast.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond Jr was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997, still intends to contest the verdict at Norhern Ireland's Court of Appeal.

His lawyers also explored seeking an urgent hearing on the prorogation of parliament, which they contend was unlawful.

That issue was not dealt with at the hearing in Belfast because it was the subject of separate cases heard the courts in England and Scotland.

But with the Supreme Court set to determine the legality of the parliamentary shutdown next week, the campaigner has decided to take that part of case directly to London.

He confirmed: "I've instructed my legal team to apply for intervention in the Supreme Court due to the timeframe.

"My appeal would not be dealt with in time for the Supreme Court on Tuesday and Northern Ireland needs to heard and represented.

"This will hopefully ensure my case is heard and Northern Ireland has a voice and representation alongside the rest of the UK at the highest court in the land."

Earlier on Thursday Lord Justice McCloskey rejected all grounds of challenge to the government's Brexit strategy.

He held that the three cases were non-justiciable.

According to his determination the actions indisputably focused on political issues, and targeted unpredictable and rapidly evolving government policy at national and international levels.

"Within the world of politics the well recognised phenomena of claim and counter-claim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow, alternation and modification of government policy, public statements, unpublished deliberations, posturing, strategy and tactics are the very essence of what is both countenanced and permitted in a democratic society," he said.

Judicial functions must respect boundaries, while a concrete and completed act of government is an essential pre-requisite for the courts to become involved.

Lord Justice McCloskey declared: "Considered in their totality (the applicants challenges) point inexorably to the conclusion that these cases trespass upon the prohibited domain of the non-justiciable.

"They qualify to be dismissed on this ground alone."

His decision underpinned a verdict reached by English judges in a separate challenge to Mr Johnson's decision to suspend parliament for five weeks ahead of the October 31 deadline.

With a Scottish court ruling that the Prime Minister acted unlawfully over the prorogation move, the Supreme Court in London will now clarify the legal position.

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