Tony Blair may give evidence in on the runs inquiry

MPs on Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to consider calling former PM

Dead horses lie covered up  after an IRA bomb exploded as the Household Cavalry was passing in Hyde Park, London in 1982. File Photograph: PA Wire

Dead horses lie covered up after an IRA bomb exploded as the Household Cavalry was passing in Hyde Park, London in 1982. File Photograph: PA Wire

Sun, Jul 13, 2014, 08:27

Former British prime minister Tony Blair could be called before a parliamentary inquiry to explain a secret deal he made with Sinn Féin to assure republican fugitives that they were not wanted by the police, it was reported.

MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee may consider the move, the Sunday Telegraph said today.

The peace process plan agreed between Sinn Féin and Mr Blair’s Labour government saw around 200 letters of assurance sent to on-the-runs telling them they were not wanted by UK authorities but not ruling out future prosecutions if new evidence emerged.

The committee is investigating after the collapse of the case against a man accused of the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing which killed four soldiers.

John Downey (62), from Co Donegal, was among those who received letters under the government’s administrative scheme. In his case it wrongly assured him he was not wanted when, in fact, the Metropolitan Police were looking for him.

Mr Blair has so far not given evidence to the committee in person. He is a Middle East peace envoy.

But his role in orchestrating the deal over the letters is coming under increasing scrutiny.

On Thursday the results of another inquiry into the affair, led by Lady Justice Heather Hallett, will be published.

Lady Justice Hallett’s report is expected to address secret negotiations between Mr Blair and Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, on how to deal with “on-the-run” suspects.

Because they had not been convicted, they did not fall within the scope of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which saw jailed paramilitaries released early.

PA