RFJ responds to Chief Justice statement on inquests

Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan
Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan
Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan

Speaking after the speech by Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan to the Victims and Survivors Forum Relatives for Justice Director Mark Thompson has said:

“Of the 55 legacy inquests, RFJ are supporting scores of families involved in 21 of those inquests. This afternoon Relatives for Justice cautiously welcomes the intervention of the Lord Chief Justice at long last. It is important that today the most senior legal figure in the North has addressed the long outstanding issues concerning the systemic fallings of the coronial process.

“The coronial process requires adequate resources and effective powers to ensure it works to deliver to families.

“Following years of battles in human rights courts families have secured effective powers in inquests.

“Regarding resources for legacy inquests, this is a critical issue and requires that the UK Government meet the costs of meeting their obligations. These deaths all occurred during direct rule and therefore the costs should be met from Westminster and not the devolved budget.

“Disclosure from state agencies however is the most serious issue to be addressed. The snail’s pace and persistent resistance by the PSNI, MoD and intelligence service to requests for information to inquests has been at the heart of the most serious issues facing the coronial system.

“Any new developments must ensure that relevant agencies respond to information necessary to the inquest in a fulsome and timely manner. We have to address the stone walling and delaying tactics of these agencies in provision of necessary information for hearing inquests.

“Notwithstanding this initial welcome we are however concerned at any consideration of a practical comparison to the current HIA model. The HIA model is not Art 2 compliant. It is inadequate and one in which families do not have legal representation. This must be cautioned against, particularly in the context of the successful battle by families for the right to representation. However, in linked inquests coroners should be empowered to address these killings in a resourced thematic fashion, with full judicial powers.” ENDS