Can the Minister give us an assurance that, where companies are highlighted that are not adhering to the principles that he has outlined, thorough investigation will take place to identify the veracity of the complaints and, if they are found to be right, actions taken thereon? Many small companies fear raising the issue because they believe that they will lose out on contracts. It is incumbent on us to defend the subcontractors and ensure that they are paid promptly.
4. Mr Poots asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what measures can be taken to ensure payments to subcontractors are made in accordance with his Department's guidelines. (AQO 7949/11-15)
The Colin Worton case has been ongoing for many years, as has the issue around the UDR four. At the outset, I will say that all our sympathies are with the Carroll family on the murder that took place. Murder is always wrong. The position of our party is that all murder is wrong. It was never justified in any circumstance. I do not need to be prompted by Sinn Féin on when I need to express my sympathies to anyone. We stand totally with that family on the loss of their son. It should never have happened. It was wrong and they deserve the support of the public.
They also deserve justice, and justice will be done when the people who committed that murder are brought before the courts of law and found guilty of having carried out that crime. Colin Worton was not one of those people but was an innocent man who was drawn into this and held for two and a half years although there was not the evidence to support a conviction. Colin's desire to have his name cleared conclusively is something that he holds very strongly. Everyone recognises the man's innocence, but we want to see more done on that front. We would also like Minister Ford to take a look at the circumstances of the case.
I listened to the debate between Ms Kelly and Mr McCartney, and I do not think that we would be supportive of throwing the doors open for every single person who was held for a period of time to receive compensation. The nature of justice is that people are brought before the courts on the basis of evidence that is before them and the Public Prosecution Service has a course of work to do in demonstrating that there is likely to be a conviction. I do not believe that that course of work was well applied in the case of Colin Worton, and, therefore, the circumstances are different from the discussion that took place between the two aforesaid Members, which would open the doors in a way that would lead to hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation having to be paid.
I think that Minister Ford has the ability to look at this, consider the ex gratia payments that Mr Maginness referred to and give proper reasoning and understanding to any compensation that could be paid to Mr Worton. Our sympathies are with him on what he has had to endure and the damage it has done to his life as a consequence. Indeed, it is the same for the others who were found innocent of the crimes committed against Adrian Carroll. They served many years in prison. They have had the opportunity to move on; Mr Worton has not, and our plea to the Minister of Justice is that he gives Mr Worton that chance to move on with the rest of his life.
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