Northern Ireland

On the Runs: Lord Tebbit calls for review to be widened

Lord Tebbit has called for the terms of an inquiry into secret letters sent to IRA On the Runs to be extended.

The On the Runs had received letters stating they were not wanted by police for paramilitary crimes committed before the 1998 Good Friday agreement.

The letters came to light when the trial of John Downey for the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing was halted because he had mistakenly received such a letter.

The government has appointed Lady Justice Hallett to review the scheme.

Former Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit said the terms of the review should be extended "so we can know whether or not there were any letters or similar inducements given to assist the progress of the ceasefire talks, which led eventually to the Good Friday agreement".

Work started

He told peers at question time: "It is my understanding that certain proceedings were held up in order to assist that process.

"It would be interesting to know if that is indeed true."

Lord Tebbit survived the IRA's 1984 bombing of The Grand Hotel, Brighton, in which his wife, Margaret, was left injured and disabled.

Government spokeswoman Baroness Randerson, replying to Lord Tebbit, said the terms of reference had been set out and work had started.

"But I'm sure that if she were to come upon evidence that led her to be concerned about issues of the nature that you have referred to, it would be within her remit to make recommendations on that for the future."

Lady Randerson said the inquiry would provide a full public account of the operation and extent of the scheme and its report was due to be completed by the end of June.