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Secretary of State comments unwarranted and unjustifiable political interference, says Long

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said comments by the Secretary of State represent an "unwarranted and unjustifiable act of political interference" in the justice system, and undermine the rule of law, after she said killings at the hands of security forces during the Troubles were not crimes.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Karen Bradley said the "fewer than 10 per cent [of killings during the Troubles] that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes. They were people acting under orders and under instruction, and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way."

Mrs Long said the Secretary of State had massively overstepped the mark.

"Karen Bradley needs to realise the statement she made is not just appalling and deeply hurtful to families of those killed by the security services, many of whom are still waiting for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones, but they have also undermined due process and the rule of law.

"We cannot have a situation where the Secretary of State - or indeed any politician - takes it upon themselves to decide whether a killing was a crime or not. That is a matter for the courts to decide based on a thorough investigation of the circumstances and a trial.

"Many of these killings are still the subject of coroners' inquiries and police investigations. This interference in due process is unwarranted, unjustified and wholly inappropriate. It is the job of the Secretary of State to defend the rule of law and the independence of the police, coroners, Public Prosecution Service and entire judicial system.

"It is imperative the Secretary of State now clarifies her remarks, withdraws this statement and apologises for the harm caused. Otherwise it is hard to see how her position is tenable."