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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 19:01 GMT
Attorney general to hold inquiry
Bertha McDougall
Bertha McDougall's RUC Reservist husband was killed by the INLA
The attorney general has confirmed he will hold an inquiry into the government's appointment of interim Victims' Commissioner Bertha McDougall.

Lord Goldsmith made his decision after a request from a High Court judge.

Mr Justice Girvan asked him to examine whether the Northern Ireland Office deliberately misled the court during a judicial review of the appointment.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain denied there was any deliberate attempt to mislead the court.

He has pledged to co-operate with the inquiry.

Lord Goldsmith said he would announce the terms of the inquiry and who will conduct it as soon as possible.


Mr Justice Girvan tabled 67 questions for Lord Goldsmith to consider.

Mr Justice Girvan said there should be an immediate inquiry into the appointment, which he said was a confidence-building gesture to the DUP.

Earlier this month, he said the appointment had been motivated by an "improper political purpose".

The judge ruled that Mr Hain had failed to take account of the fact that there was no evidential basis for concluding that Mrs McDougall - the widow of a police reservist murdered by the INLA - would command cross-community support.


He also criticised civil servants who had been advising Mr Hain in connection with the appointment.

He said they "provided partial, misleading and incorrect information" as to the manner of the appointment".

In Monday's judgement, Mr Justice Girvan ruled that if the inquiry was to be fair and meaningful it could not be conducted by those directly involved in handling this case.

The judicial review was taken by Brenda Downes, whose husband was killed by a RUC plastic bullet in 1984.

Mrs McDougall, 59, a former school teacher, helped set up the victims' group, Forgotten Families.

Martina Purdy reports on the case

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