'Alternative to prosecution' put forward over conflict crimes

Northern Ireland's former director of public prosecutions has called for a halt to criminal prosecutions for conflict crimes.

Barra McGrory QC proposed there should not be a criminal justice process but an alternative used to retrieve information.

He told the BBC: "I am suggesting that there not be a criminal justice process but there be an alternative process to elicit information which is not linked to criminal sanction."

Mr McGrory spent six years in charge of prosecutions in Northern Ireland, including legacy ones.

During his period in office there was strident criticism from MPs in England who claimed there was an imbalance between the prosecution of former soldiers and paramilitaries although the statistics showed otherwise.

Mr McGrory said he was not advocating a line be drawn under the past.

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin QC has previously called for an end to prosecutions for Troubles-related crimes.

The British Government is consulting on measures addressing the toxic legacy of thousands of unresolved killings during the 30-year conflict.

It has proposed a Historical Investigations Unit to take over police work with a view to possible prosecutions, as well as an information retrieval unit distinct from the criminal justice system.