Victims' Commissioner appointment ruled unlawful

The appointment of an interim Victims’ Commissioner for Northern Ireland was not lawful, the Court of Appeal ruled today.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain failed to consider the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies, the court in Belfast added.

Police widow Bertha McDougall’s appointment has been at the centre of a lengthy legal challenge by a west Belfast woman who claimed she did not command cross-community support.

Today’s ruling said: “The Court of Appeal determined that all the available evidence pointed to the conclusion that the Secretary of State did not have regard to the provisions of the code at any time during his deliberations and on that account his decision to appoint Mrs McDougall could not be allowed to stand.”

It added: “The decision to appoint Mrs Bertha McDougall as the interim Victims’ Commissioner was not lawfully made as the Secretary of State failed to take into account the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies.”


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