Northern Ireland, Laurence Fox and an Each-way Bet

One of Bunter Johnson’s promises during the election campaign – and it must have gained him a sackload of votes – was that he would put an end to the prosecution of long-retired British soldiers for crimes allegedly committed during the Northern Irish Troubles. I for one, fully approved. A soldier’s job is difficult at the best of times and the war in Northern Ireland was a particularly horrible one.

But Bunter seems to have changed his mind and has agreed to do exactly the opposite. A key part of the recent resurrection of ‘power-sharing’ in Northern Ireland is a pledge to revive a rather nasty deal called the Stormont House Agreement, agreed to by the wishy-washy Cameron shower in 2014.

This ‘agreement’ ensures that there will be more of these politically motivated cases. In fact it is the latest stage in the appeasement of the IRA and the other terror groups, which began in 1998 with the mass release of scores of terrorists, both loyalist and Republican. This surrender to criminal violence, the most shameful and abject in modern British history, is generally ignored or forgotten on the mainland, but there is one part of this which reaches across the Irish Sea, and that is the unceasing attempt to pursue these cold cases.

Every time it happens, the Tories say they will stop it. But they don’t and it happens again. This is because it is what the IRA (and its political wing Sinn Fein) want. And rather as the Royal Biscuit said of his tame Yank, what the IRA wants, they get because the British government are scared stiff of offending them.

Maybe some of these old cases are justified. Nast things happen in any war and this one was dirtier than most. But that is not the point. Justice has never been the point of the 1998 agreement. Let’s face it, this pathetically one-sided deal not only led to the rapid freedom of many murderers, it also prevented the prosecution of terrorist criminals who were not tried before the deal was reached.

Take the case of John Downey, the alleged culprit of the Hyde Park bombing. He was one of nearly two hundred people who had been given written official promises that they would not be prosecuted. As the judge said, even if he had been convicted, he would have served no more than two years – for a crime of such brutal savagery? It beggars belief, but the ‘deal’ was a deal for the terrorist side, who we are told were finally defeated in 1998. 

Now the Stormont House Agreement, which Mr Johnson has just agreed to put into effect, promises: ‘Legislation will establish a new independent body to take forward investigations into outstanding Troubles-related deaths; the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).’ 

It adds: ‘In respect of its criminal investigations, the HIU will have full policing powers.’

Last year we were told that the Prime Minister was going to bring an end to all ongoing investigations from the conflict, and he said only last Monday that he would not support vexatious claims when there was no new evidence. 

But the Stormont agreement includes the HIU, and the point of all the ongoing investigations is that the original evidence has never been properly investigated. Does this mean that Bunter has now decided to support the investigation of every single outstanding claim?

He also said last week that ‘Nothing in the agreement will stop us going ahead with legislation to ensure that no one who has served in our armed forces suffers vexatious or unfair prosecution for cases that happened many years ago when no new evidence has been provided. We will legislate to ensure that cannot happen.’

What a load of sanctimonious woffle but my question would be, who decides what is vexatious or unfair? What if the HIU insists that the evidence is new and the Belfast prosecution service agrees? Heaven help poor British soldiers if this is all the protection they have.

It would seem that terrorism wins again – as it so often seems to do!

I ranted with much glee last week about the actor Laurence Fox standing up for common sense on Question Time. The following day, The Times reported that Mr Fox’s comments were condemned by the actors’ union Equity as ‘disgraceful playing to the gallery’ and called him ‘a disgrace to our industry.’

Are not actors paid to play to the gallery or am I missing something?

At the other end of the newspaper social scale, The Sun’s editorial praised the actor for ‘having the guts to defy the suffocating liberal-left consensus in the arts.’

I don’t often read The Sun but I do so agree with them.

When Anthony Blair allowed gambling firms to advertise openly, I predicted that it was going to cause huge problems. I know I am rather biased as my Grandfather betted away a considerable fortune, but this country is now gripped in an epidemic of gambling-associated problems.

It is becoming predictably corrupt too. Take Fred and Peter Done, who are both billionaires. 

They created Betfred, a gambling company that made £728 million last year by luring men and a few women into the world of compulsive online gambling that has destroyed so many lives.

Now we learn that these two beauties have another company. This is Health Assured which believe it or not has contracts with the NHS and councils worth at least two and a half million quid – providing services for gambling addicts.

Talk about a successful each-way bet, but how on earth do they get away with it?

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