On The Runs inquiry finds system flawed but 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 had found.

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Hoey blames Blair for letters sent to On The Runs

One of Tony Blair's ex-ministers has said the former Prime Minister was responsible for the so-called "comfort letters" sent to Irish republican "on the runs".

Tony Blair has been blamed. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Labour's Kate Hoey said: "Surely the real responsibility for all of this, whatever he did in terms of getting the peace process, must lie at the very heart of government, which was the letters that were coming from the Prime Minster to Gerry Adams saying we are going to sort this."


'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


What were the letters sent to On-The-Runs?

  • Around 200 so-called letters of assurance were sent to fugitive Irish republicans telling them they were not wanted by British authorities
  • The letters were sent to sustain the Northern Ireland peace process
  • A senior police commander told MPs that 95 of the people who received letters were linked to 295 murders during the Troubles
  • The prosecution of a man accused over the 1982 Hyde Park bombing collapsed when it emerged he had been wrongly sent a letter of assurance in 2007

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.

Findings into secret letters sent to 'On The Runs' due

The results of a judicial review into secret letters sent to Northern Ireland's "On The Runs" telling them they were no longer wanted, are to be published.

Lady Justice Dame Heather Hallett has previously overseen the inquiry into the 7/7 bombings. Credit: PA

Lady Justice Hallett's review into letters sent by authorities to republican terrorism suspects was ordered by David Cameron earlier this year.

The scheme was made public when the trial collapsed of a man suspected of the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing.

Police in Northern Ireland mistakenly told John Downey in 2007 that he was no longer being sought by Scotland Yard.

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