In a judgment handed down on 1 July 2008 Weatherup J ruled on the test to be applied by a sponsoring minister when considering the terms of reference for a public inquiry. The case concerned an application made to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to extend the terms of reference of the Robert Hamill Inquiry to include the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland in connection with a number of failed prosecutions. The Secretary of State rejected the application on the ground that prosecutorial decisions could only be investigated in exceptional circumstances. Quashing that decision, Weatherup J held that the Secretary of State should have applied the test of public interest, and that an “exceptional circumstances” test in relation to prosecutorial decisions was not applicable to public inquiries.
Ashley Underwood QC appeared for the Robert Hamill Inquiry as a notice party.