Northern Ireland legacy Bill: King Charles urged to ‘stand with victims’ and refuse royal assent

Bill is expected to gain royal assent this autumn despite being widely opposed

A direct appeal has been made to Britain’s King Charles to refuse royal assent for the controversial Northern Ireland legacy Bill.

There has been widespread opposition to the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill which would give immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences to people who co-operated with a new information retrieval body.

It would also prevent future civil cases and inquests into Troubles offences.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said the Bill is “not the perfect solution” but added he does not believe there is a perfect solution to the challenge of dealing with the past.


Mr Heaton-Harris said he believes the Bill will help some people find the answers they require, adding that it is a genuine attempt to find a solution.

The Bill is expected to gain royal assent this autumn despite being opposed by all major Stormont parties, the Irish Government and victims’ campaign groups.

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997, is among scores of people who lost loved ones in the Troubles who are campaigning for answers and justice.

No one has ever been brought to justice for Raymond Jnr’s murder.

In his letter seen by the PA news agency, Mr McCord writes: “I don’t believe you are a stupid man or go around with blinkers, as a blind man can see that this nonsense from Heaton-Harris and the prime minister with his MPs that this Bill will give victims answers and bring reconciliation by giving murderers/war criminals an amnesty is a complete travesty.

“I’m asking that you as king refuse to sign royal assent to this Bill if it’s passed in parliament. Your duty is to your citizens from all faiths and colour.”

Mr McCord concluded his letter with the challenge: “Stand with the victims or go down in history as the king who wore a blindfold instead of looking for justice.”

In a statement, Mr McCord said he has also asked for a meeting with the king.

“King Charles, like me and many others, is a father and grandfather. I believe that making him part of the campaign to stop this illegal Bill is proper and balanced as he plays the final part of making an illegal Bill legal. Nothing in law states he must give it royal assent,” Mr McCord said.

“He will have the opportunity if the Bill is passed to show where his loyalties are. Hopefully for victims and truth and justice he will agree to meet with me and possibly another victim so that it is a cross-community meeting and approach.

“All I and thousands of other victims are asking for is truth and justice and we must look at every way legally possible to achieve it. This is not a constitutional issue, it’s a moral and legal issue.

“Is King Charles a king for the people or a king for the Conservatives?” – PA