There was a preliminary hearing today of the Inquiry into the 1997 murder of the notorious loyalist Billy Wright by the INLA in the Maze Prison. (Hat-tip Slugger)
It emerged that the Inquiry will not be held under the terms of the Prison Act, but under the new Inquiries Act, which has been described by Amnesty International as ‘the death knell of any possibility of public scrutiny of and accountability for state abuses."
The Inquiries Act gives Ministers (rather than judges) the power to:
– set the terms of the inquiry
– appoint the chairman,
– sack any member of the tribunal
– order hearings to be held in private
– block disclosure of evidence
-withhold publication of all or part of the final report.
It’s not surprising that Billy Wright’s father is now considering whether to co-operate with the Inquiry.
The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have already called on judges not to serve on an inquiry into that case under the new act.