Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland publishes Starmer Review

The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, has published the conclusions of the independent Review of three linked cases involving sex abuse and terrorist related charges, conducted by Keir Starmer QC and Katie O’Byrne.  Keir and Katie were asked in November 2014 to review the prosecution conduct and handling of the cases and to identify recommendations to improve the prosecution service. 

 

The prosecutions began in early 2010, when three complainants made allegations of sexual abuse dating between 1997 and 2000.  It was also alleged that during 1999-2000 the complainants’ allegations were ‘investigated’ by members of the IRA. As a result, one person was prosecuted for sexual abuse and five persons were prosecuted for charges related to membership of a proscribed organisation. 

 

Owing to various matters, none of the trials had been heard by the start of 2014.  Three separate trials collapsed after the complainants withdrew their evidence, citing delay and other frustrations.

 

The Review made 14 findings, set out in a detailed report.  The Review concluded that these were difficult, complicated and sensitive cases – probably the first cases to reach the prosecution service that involved allegations relating to an internal IRA investigation of alleged sexual abuse.  The Review found a number of failings by the prosecution service and prosecuting counsel in the planning and management of the cases and in communication with the complainants.

 

The Review made 10 recommendations as to how the prosecution service could be improved.

 

The DPP for Northern Ireland accepted all the findings of the Review, made a public apology to the complainants and outlined the steps that have already been taken or accelerated in order to address the recommendations.

 

The full text of the report is available here.

 

Coverage of the report’s publication can be found here and here.

 

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