Wanted terrorist 'On the Run' letters 'not unlawful'

A controversial Government scheme that assured around 190 Irish republicans they were not wanted by UK police was "systematically flawed" but not unlawful, a judge-led inquiry has found. Campaigners fighting for justice for the victims of the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombings fear those responsible could be among the 190 dissidents who were sent so-called 'On the run' letters.

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Pub Bombing campaigners welcome 'On the run' report

Terrorist suspects from the time of the Northern Ireland "Troubles" have been told today there is no amnesty, no get-out-of-jail card.

The remark was made by a judge investigating secret letters sent to Republicans - known as On The Runs, or OTRs - that they were no longer wanted by police for their alleged crimes.

The organisation representing 21 people killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings says this now ought to pave the way for the authorities to investigate suspects who have so far escaped justice. Keith Wilkinson reports.

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'Suspected terrorists not handed get out of jail free card'

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, has made a statement in the House of Commons on the report published today by Lady Justice Hallett on the scheme dealing with so-called 'On The Runs'.

Lady Hallett's report concludes:

The administrative scheme did not amount to an amnesty for terrorists, suspected terrorists were not handed a get out of jail free card.

– Lady Hallett

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Background to Northern Ireland 'On The Runs' crisis

  • Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson threatened to resign after the existence of the letters was made public.
  • David Cameron called the letters a "dreadful mistake".
  • The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 meant anyone convicted of paramilitary crimes was eligible for early release from prison.
  • However, this did not cover those suspected of such crimes, nor did it cover people who had been charged or convicted, but who had escaped from prison.
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