Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Why Hutton? - 30th July 2003, 22.50

The name of Lord Hutton, Law Lord and crossbencher, was rapidly canvassed to head the committee of inquiry examining Kelly's death. The judge was a distinguished figure, scion of the Anglo-Irish establishment that educated its sons in public schools and Oxbridge, grooming them for the highest positions of state within Stormont whilst assuring that their identities were wedded to the wider Empire. Hutton was no exception: educated at Shrewsbury and a Balliol man, before further studies at Queen's College, Belfast and entry to the Northern Ireland Bar.

Such an eminent background, including an excellent first in jurisprudence does not explain "why Hutton?" as opposed to any other spare member of the 'great and the good' who could be conscripted into public service for the duration. This Law Lord was Chief Justice for Northern Ireland from 1988 and had a notable career as a judge, defending state interests in the conflict. Brian Hutton QC represented the soldiers in the Widgery inquiry into "Bloody Sunday". He represented the British government against claims of mistreatment in the European Court of Human Rights in 1978. His last 'vocal' intervention was the request for Lord Hoffman to declare his 'interest' in Amnesty International during the Pinochet case.

For those who would claim that the security services hold some undefined interest in this affair, it is clear that Hutton is one of the few judges considered trustworthy enough to be encumbered with their secrets. Hutton's appointment indicates that the Blair administration had to turn to one of the more conservative figures on the bench to head the inquiry, a lord with past links to the security services and an adept knowledge of the pressures that law and intelligence exert on each other. However, Hutton is probably a compromise candidate, considered suitable by the secret services and by the Blairite politicians. The question of whether the 'public interest', for a transparent inquiry that will reveal the events leading up to Kelly's death, will be represented remains unproven. Will one of the inquiry's main objectives, unspoken but clear, be the avoidance of embarrassing revelations for all parties involved in Kelly's death?

I suspect that we shall see more smears.


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