Northern Ireland

On the Runs: Grieve says no grounds to appeal John Downey decision

Dominic Grieve
Image caption Dominic Grieve QC faced questions from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

There are no grounds to appeal the decision not to prosecute John Downey for the Hyde Park bombing, the Attorney General for England and Wales has said.

Dominic Grieve was giving evidence to the NI Affairs Committee as part of its inquiry into the On the Runs scheme.

Unionist politicians have criticised the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to appeal that judgement.

The decisions to prosecute Mr Downey and not to appeal the judgement, were both taken by Mr Grieve.

Under the On the Runs scheme, letters were sent to around 200 republicans telling them they were not wanted by the police.

Image caption The collapse of John Downey's trial earlier this year sparked the On the Runs crisis

Mr Downey was mistakenly sent a letter telling him he was not wanted for questioning by the PSNI or any other UK police force.

The PSNI later discovered that he was in fact wanted in connection with the 1982 IRA bombing that killed four soldiers, but did not correct the mistake.


In February, a judge at the Old Bailey in London said that meant a decision to prosecute him amounted to an abuse of process, and ruled that he could not stand trial.

Questioned by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today, Mr Grieve said there were no grounds for an appeal.

"Prosecutors shouldn't just go and appeal a decision unless they think they have good grounds for doing it," he said.

"All I can say about that is we looked at it very carefully, and the independent view that had been formed by the CPS, and indeed the view which I formed when I read it and which we then discussed, was that the judgement was unappealable."

He also insisted there was no pressure from the government not to appeal the judgement.

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