6 January 2000 Edition

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High Court disarray over Queen's oath

A judicial review sought by barristers Seamus Tracey and Barry MacDonald cannot be heard by Belfast's High Court judges because they have already formed a view on the matter to be brought before them.

The workings of Belfast's High Court was thrown into disarray this week after a hearing was sought by two barristers due to become members of the Inner Bar, known as the Queen's Counsel, who refused to make a declaration which included an oath to serve the British queen.

Seamus Tracey and Barry MacDonald boycotted the swearing in ceremony two weeks ago when their colleagues were sworn in as QCs. The two barristers wanted to use the declaration adopted by the Bar Council in the Elliot Report of May 1997 which omits all reference to the queen.

However, in seeking a judicial review it has emerged that the views of judges were sought prior to the Elliot Report and they had supported retaining the royal declaration. At a later date, Chief Judge Robert Carswell declined to give his view on the grounds that it was a matter for the Secretary of State.

Appearing in Belfast High Court on behalf of Tracey and MacDonald, legal counsel Michael Lavery argued that any judges who have considered this matter, regardless of their view, ought not to hear the case. It would lead to the perception that they had presided at an unfair and biased hearing, said Lavery. The hearing was adjourned.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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