18 May 2006

Wright inquiry rule change 'suspicious'

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
18 May 2006

The Billy Wright Inquiry was a "golden opportunity" for the Government to give its controversial Inquiries Act a soft landing, a courtroom heard yesterday.

The assertion was made by legal counsel for Billy Wright's father, who is taking a judicial review of then-Secretary of State Paul Murphy's November 2004 decision to change the rules governing the inquiry.

David Wright is spearheading an appeal of the decision.

The hearing into the murdered Portadown LVF leader's 1997 murder in the Maze prison by INLA gunmen is being chaired by Lord MacLean, who is probing the actions of the Prison Service and other authorities.

Mr Wright's barrister, Seamus Tracey, said the circumstances surrounding the announcement that the Inquiry would be governed by the 2005 Act after a request from Lord MacLean were suspicious.

"Certainly the suspicion is that it gave the Secretary of State and the Government a wonderful opportunity to give the 2005 Act a soft landing and blame it not on the Government but blame it on the chairman," he said.

"Once that request was made it was a golden opportunity for the Secretary of State and the Government."

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