Over 350
given out
in Ulster

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More than 350 royal pardons have been issued in Northern Ireland over the past 35 years, the Government has disclosed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has revealed that the Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPM) was exercised in the province on at least 365 occasions between 1979 and 2002.

But the true total may well be higher as the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has been unable to find the records for the 10-year period from 1987 to 1997.

Mrs Villiers added that the records indicated that there were no cases of pardons being granted after 2002.

The details were revealed in a Commons written answer to the Labour MP Kate Hoey who said that she was “shocked” at the disclosures.

“I find it unbelievable that so many people in such a short space of time were given pardons,” she said.

“I want to know who all these people are. I think that the public will want to know who these people are.”

Miss Hoey, who said she would be pursuing the matter in the Commons, questioned why the pardons had apparently not been listed in either the Belfast Gazette or the London Gazette as would normally be the case.

She said that Mrs Villiers also needed to explain how records relating to such an important issue had been lost.

“There was clearly a cover-up. How can records not be found on something that the Queen has to sign off?” she said.

The NIO said that the issue related to the actions of the former Labour government for which current Ministers did not have any responsibility.