David Ford said: “The first I became aware of this scheme and the associated letters issued was after the Downey court decision and shortly before it became public. It was never introduced to me either before, at the point of devolution or since devolution in April 2010.
“Comments made by the Secretary of State in the House of Commons that letters have been issued since the devolution of justice are deeply disturbing. I have demanded a meeting with the Secretary of State and will be meeting her later this evening to clarify who has signed these letters.
“What I do know is that none of these letters have issued from the Department of Justice. What we don’t know is what the implications may be for prosecutions and for our crucial efforts to find political consensus on how to deal with the past.
“It is important that the victims of this, and all the other atrocities, are remembered and sensitivity observed.”