My life in a banana republic-Latin edition

Jambo!

Or as the Romans said “salvete”.

My father and uncle were keen that I should get a good education in my home country, so they handed me over to the nuns when I was four. Then I was educated by the Jesuits at my country’s leading grammar school. Dingle asked me if they were violent. I said no , but the nuns could punch their weight.

So the Jesuits taught me Latin. This has stood me in good stead. I recognise many Latin words in English. The lawyers are particularly fond of it. John Larkin never lets a paragraph go by with out a ‘bon mot’ or should I say a ‘verbum bonum’.

Why all this pretentiousness?

I had difficult questions for Dingle, my friend, part academic, part soldier, part philosopher.

Me: Dingle, the police exist to investigate crime?

D: Yes

Me: So all crime is investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland?

D: Not necessarily.

Me: What crimes would the PSNI not investigate?

D: If a police officer was alleged to have committed a crime.

Me: Who investigates that?

D: The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Me: Is he a policeman?

D: No , but he employs former policemen-and women.

Me: So they investigate the police who are alleged to have committed crimes?

D: Yes

Me: And if they think they have, what then? Does one of these police persons make a report?

D: No the Police Ombudsman makes a report.

Me: But he is not a policeman?

D: Quite so. They can recommend that the policeman is prosecuted.

Me: Who does that?

D: The Director of Public Prosecutions

Me: So he prosecutes policemen?

D: If need be

Me: So what happens if the Police Ombudsman thinks that the policeman should simply be reprimanded?

D: He reports to the Chief Constable, who decides on a punishment.

Me: What if the Chief Constable is reported as having done something wrong?

D: The Police Ombudsman investigates that

Me: So do these three people ever speak?

D: Yes , when the Police Ombudsman produced a very critical report on Loughinisland, the Chief Constable thought it was very good. Although when Mr Justice McCloskey said it was very bad, George said that he tended to agree with him.

Me: Is that it?

D: Oh no. The Police Ombudsman is investigating the Chief Constable as we speak.

Me: That must be embarrassing ?

D: Perhaps. You see, the Police Ombudsman investigated the man called Stake Knife but because there were lots of Brit Spooks involved [which he is not allowed to investigate] he gave the files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Me: And he investigated it!

D: No he can’t he gave it back to the Chief Constable.

Me: And he investigated it!

D: No he can’t because the courts said that his force is biased in favour of the Brit Spooks, so he gave it to a man called Jon Boucher, the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Constabulary.

Me: And his force investigated it!

D: noooo, he is acting with all the powers of the PSNI and his officers come from all arts and parts and he is being judicially reviewed because he works for PSNI.

Me: But apart from that one, there are no complications are there?

D: Weeelll….

Me: Tell me!

D: Some of the Chief Constable’s former senior officers say that the Police Ombudsman’s report into Loughinisland was unfair towards them.

Me: Why?

D: Audi alteram partem.

Me: Ah! so what did they do?

D: They judicially reviewed the report.

Me: How did the Police Ombudsman react to that?

D: Well, after he had removed the makeup, having appeared in a film about Loughinisland, he objected.

Me: And who won?

D: It’s not over yet.

Me: Why not?

D: The Police Ombudsman has employed the just resigned Director of Public Prosecutions to represent him in front of Mr Justice McCloskey, who many years ago , when he was a barrister, represented some  police in a  case similar to the one he is trying.  Mr McCloskey’s father used to be deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. The just resigned Director of Public Prosecutions and his father before him  used to represent SF/IRA people who wanted to kill policemen. The Chief Constable has said that the inquiry by the Police Ombudsman into his conduct will exonerate him. A man called Bryson has complained to the Department of Justice about the Police Ombudsman appearing in the  film.

Me: Is that a crime?

D: No but it will have to be investigated.

Me: By whom?

D: By the Justice Minister.

Me: But there isn’t one.

D: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

At least I learned Latin in MY banana republic…..

Valete!

 

 

 

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Moussa Koussa and the Chief Constable

I wrote to George in December 2015 about evidence that Andrew MacKinlay had given the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. He said that MK “would have known about Semtex and the supplying of arms to the IRA over many years and probably authorised it”. I asked George if MK was interviewed by his officers when MK had his stop over in the UK and if he intended to seek MK’s extradition from Qatar.

At the end of January 2016 “Will Kerr OBE Assistant Chief Constable, Crime Operations” replied. This all came as a big surprise to him and , no , they did not interview him and no, he was “not currently being sought in connection with an offence in Northern Ireland”. He did say that they were trying to get an address for Mr McKinlay [sic] so that they could “establish whether he possesses evidence of Mr Koussa having committed a criminal  offence”. I suppose they might ask Mr MacKinlay who received the Semtex in Ireland, though that might be embarrassing for the NI Executive.

Of course, George could have popped in to say hello to MK , when he visited Qatar recently. The Belfast Telegraph reported that George had an all expenses visit to Doha and stayed at the  luxury St Regis Hotel. Given that MK was booted out of his suite at the Four Seasons Hotel and now lives in a small house , it was the least George could have done to have taken him for a slap up meal at his place.

There, he could have asked him to relate his life as a CIA/MI5 agent and tell George stirring tales of shipping Semtex to Martin McGuinness and other the other chaps that George shared a platform with in West Belfast. He could have given George a rough estimate of how many people died as a result. What George refers to as “legacy issues”. MK could have explained how MI6 rescued him from Libya and flew him on an executive jet to the UK before MK retired to Qatar.

Mk and George could have chatted about flogging , torture and the deaths of 1,000 workers in Doha. They could have mentioned corruption around the World Cup.

George could have told him that the PSNI always “follows the evidence”.

Alas the PSNI’s “human rights based policing approach” seems not to have borne fruit and George came home with no new news about MK.

Meanwhile I have this assurance from Will. “if evidence exists relating to offences in Northern Ireland, we will consider what further action is necessary in accordance with our statutory obligations”.

Take it easy Moussa!

The past

 

My attention turns towards Christmas Past. Who can avoid such stuff?

Thousands contemplate the empty place at the table , the gift not bought.

“the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” comes to all our doors.

Christmas is especially burdensome for those who have lost relatives or friends at the hands of terrorists. Much worse again if the crime was committed by the State.

As time moves on ,those OxBridge boys and girls in Whitehall look for ever more cunning ways to disengage GB  from the disaster which is Northern Ireland.

The Army is perplexed as  to why its squaddies might be prosecuted. I’d be happier if an officer or two was in the frame but what do you think is the likelihood of that?

Here, George Hamilton, the somewhat sturdy leader of the Constabulary calls the murders of my parents, in June 1990, a ” legacy issue”. Extraordinary for a policeman. More and more as he manoeuvres at the behest of his paymasters [those OxBridge ones again]  he wants nothing more to do with old crimes.

Only in the fantasy world of Northern Ireland would the most senior police officer suggest such a course.He is pretending that this all came as a terrible shock when he became Chief Constable. What a jolly jape!

Nothing to do with me Guv!

But there is worse.

In November 2015 Pablo de Grieff , the UN rapporteur on transitional justice , published a preliminary report on us.

He says that there are four pillars in a transitional justice policy;  truth , justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

On all of these the Northern Ireland vehicle is running on empty.

During his ten day visit he met [apparently] with a wide range of people. It didn’t take him long to spot our segregated education system as being a major problem.

Nor did the Spooks pass him by. Here is what he said about that:

“Although everyone must acknowledge the significance of national security concerns, it must also be acknowledged that particularly in the days we are living in , it is easy to use ‘national security’ as a blanket term.”

For those who have been bereaved, the sting is in the tail.

He says: “the issue of reparations for victims will need to be tacked in a serious and systematic way.  Here it may be important to bear in mind the many international experiences that have established reparations programmes on the basis of broad acknowledgement of responsibility distinct from acknowledgements of criminal guilt.”

In this jurisdiction no organisation has remotely come near  this standard.

It is facile and useless to expect the Northern Ireland Executive might so do. Might our Westminster MPs? Might the Victims’ Commissioner?

Huge constitutional crisis

Northern Ireland was plunged into a new slough of despond this evening with the news that Peter Curistan has turned up at Brooklyn with a constitutional bombshell for the Chief Constable.

He complains of words spoken by Peter Robinson, paragon of virtue and man of rectitude, in the House of Commons on 8th February 2006.

Stifle, Dear Reader , your surprise at the elapse of almost ten years since this outrage.

According to his solicitors KRWLAW , “human rights lawyers,solicitor advocates” he alleges “criminal malfeasance in public office by the First Minister , Peter Robinson MLA”

The activity complained of took place, not while Mr Robinson was an MLA at all but when he was a MP.  Mr Curistan alleges that this activity has damaged his personal and business reputation.

Stopping there , one might have some sympathy with a man whose reputation has been damaged by words spoken in the House of Commons. It is not an unusual event, especially where Northern Ireland is concerned. It is alleged that these words are without foundation.

Mr Curistan is fortified in his complaint because he recently sought KRWLAW’s advice and they engaged the services “of a ‘leading’ , not just any , Queen’s Counsel with vast expertise in criminal law.” KRWLAW go on “That Q.C. is [one almost expects ‘none other than’ and a drum roll and clash of cymbals] Mr Eugene Grant, a former Chair of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland”

My devoted readers will know that I have a certain view of this country, summed up as ‘a banana republic without the bananas’

Some of you will have acquired a smattering of legal expertise.

So let’s get down to it.

There is no such offence as “criminal misfeasance in a public office”.

There is the common law criminal offence of “misconduct in a public office” to which I shall return.

Misfeasance in a public office is a tort, which is a civil wrong for which the remedy is , generally, damages. Interestingly, Mr Curistan has chosen not to sue Mr Robinson in the Civil Courts. That may have something to do with the delay in his complaint or the costs involved. I do not know. The day following Mr Robinson’s statement Mr Curistan could have  issued civil proceedings. He did not.

Instead , I think, though because of the poor quality of the KRWLAW press release, I cannot be sure , Mr Curistan is urging the Chief Constable to investigate a crime.

At this point Curistan, KRWLAW and Grant “leading Q.C.” come up against one of the great products of the Protestant Glorious Revolution, The Bill of Rights 1688.

It provides “that the Freedome of Speech and Debates in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or Place out of Parlyament”

Halsbury, the book of reference on these matters, says that the law is settled. A Member of Parliament cannot be pursued in the courts for what he says in Parliament. It is known as parliamentary privilege.  Perhaps, though, the Bill of Rights is an enactment whose time has ended. We shall see. Meantime lights burn late at Brooklyn while the Chief Constable and his advisers consider the greatest challenge to the constitution since Guy Fawkes. Wait a minute! What timing!

It is a distraction , for those in abject poverty in many areas of Northern Ireland. It is a welcome relief for the workers at Michelin. It is a change from boring old news about our dysfunctional education system , our underachieving health system and our dangerous prisons, in which men in the lowest centiles of IQ are locked up.

Who knows where this crisis will end? Is Parliament, as we know it , doomed? After all it is only 498 years since the notice was nailed to the door in Wittenberg.

This crisis may outlive the last crisis…when was the deadline….?

Hiding in plain sight

Aren’t we missing something, Dear Reader?

During the vexed times when Sinn Fein/IRA were negotiating with Blair and matters such as decommissioning, or the lack of it, on-the-runs and Royal Pardons were being discussed there was a class of person for whom there was a difficulty. The murderer  such as Martin McGuinness or Brian Gillen, who had not been convicted. If you had a conviction, a Royal Pardon solved it. If you were outside Northern Ireland you got a letter. What to do with the rest? Given the level of detailed negotiation and subsequent events, there must , at least , have been an understanding about their future.

Try this. Unless the participants  commit a further offence, HMG will ensure that nobody will be prosecuted for a crime committed prior to the GFA. Should the PSNI arrest, charge and/or report someone on the list for an offence pre-GFA , HMG will ensure that , even if there is evidence which passes the test for prosecution, the prosecuting authority will be advised that prosecution is not in the public interest.

The legal basis for this is the Shawcross Doctrine. The executive can overrule the law officers in certain circumstances. Originally , regard had to be given to “the effect which a prosecution successful or unsuccessful as the case may be would have on public morale or order”.

Dominic Grieve also included ” where necessary to safeguard national security”.

Does this explain the paralysis re Gerry Adams, the dropping of a case against McGuinness in the 1980s, the disappearance of the file in Operation Taurus and the remarks of the investigators into the Enniskillen bomb? Does it explain the shock articulated by McGuinness when Adams was arrested and the mention of dark forces. Does it explain Bobby Storey’s guldering on a west Belfast platform? [ the caterpillar, before he was the butterfly]

Prosecutions are going nowhere, unless it is now in the public interest to let them.

Is it?

Link Appleyard

Those familiar with “The man who shot Liberty Valance” will remember Link Appleyard.

He was the overweight, vacillating town marshall in Shinbone. When Liberty and his gang rode into town , Link was keen to let them work away and very not keen to enforce the law.

Over the last year , there is something about Link that reminds me of another law enforcement officer. I can’t quite put my finger on him at present but perhaps if I follow an evidential trail I will find him.

Anyway, the important point of this piece is that until recently our own Link Appleyard considered thousand of terrorist murders as “legacy issues”. Link would have had sympathy with that, if Ransom Stoddard had been killed.

Happily, Tom Doniphon intervened.

I have difficulty with Pompey. Does he have an equivalent here?

Humpty Dumpty sat on the fence

Humpty Dumpty told Alice that if he ever fell off the wall, the King would send all his horses and all his men to pick him up.

Our own policing Humpty Dumpty can look forward to the Queen sending him a knighthood, providing he stays on the fence.

Last night Sharon O’Neill asked him a very obvious question; “Who is the leader of PIRA?”

His answer was that membership is a criminal offence and he wasn’t going to do or say anything or speculate on anything which could undermine any future court proceedings.

So there you are Dear Reader, the Chief Con is on the case “following the evidence”. Can’t you see him with his magnifying glass and cape , accompanied by Joe 90, examining the footpaths of West Belfast?

Of course he could have arrested a sizeable proportion of PIRA high command the other week when he met them in a hall in West Belfast, a hall being guarded by a PIRA run security company. He shook hands with a man who has murdered many innocent people. The butchers boy from the Bogside.

To imagine for a moment. George causes a file to be sent to Barra-Boy. It contains evidence against senior members of PIRA, it being a proscribed organisation. Barra, because of his past would have to pass it to the team which bought you such block busters as Cahill and McCartney.

This is just a little fantasy for two reasons.

  1. A number of the northern command and the Belfast brigade PIRA are state agents. Therefore George and MI5 know exactly what is going on in PIRA and keep the Secretary of State informed.
  2. I have been asking since 1990 why no senior member of PIRA was questioned about the murders of my parents.

No senior member of PIRA has ever been convicted.

As Northern Ireland descends into chaos and farce with this , Nama, Red Sky and other imbecilic acts, will the unionist parties have the courage to act?

Don’t hold your breath. As they often say in Ahoghill; “Deus ex machina”.