HL Deb 21 October 2002 vol 639 cc82-4WA
Lord Laird

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which officials or ministers appointed William Mackessy to a post in the Northern Ireland Office in Belfast; what that post was; when he was appointed; and what attempts, including positive or negative vetting, were made to ascertain his security status. [HL5861]

How and when they learned that William Mackessy was performing duties in the Northern Ireland Office over and above those he was required to perform by his employers. [HL5862]

Whether William Mackessy was disciplined by the Northern Ireland Office; which officials or ministers were involved in that process; what the alleged offences were; and what was the outcome of the disciplinary process. [HL58631]

Which officials or ministers decided to transfer William Mackessy to the Government of Northern Ireland; when this happened; and to whose department in the devolved administration he was transferred, and why. [HL5864]

Whether officials or ministers in the Northern Ireland Office reported William Mackessy to the police or any other agency. [HL5865]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

I am responding to these Questions to the extent that the rules ofsub judice make it appropriate for me to do so, given the criminal charges which William Mackessy is facing.

Mr Mackessy was appointed to the Northern Ireland Office, on secondment from the Department of Finance and Personnel, on 3 April 2000 as a Support Band Grade 2 Messenger. The normal security vetting that applies to all personnel appointed to the Northern Ireland Office was carried out and Mr Mackessy received security clearance.

Concern was expressed about Mr Mackessy's conduct in the NIO on one occasion. An investigation by his line management, and reported to the department's central personnel section, did not produce any firm evidence to substantiate that concern. Therefore, no disciplinary action was taken. As part of the investigation, further vetting checks were made with the police.

In October 2001 the Compensation Agency, an agency of the NIO, required a messenger to fill a temporary vacancy. Mr Mackessy was moved to the post. At the stage when he became surplus to the agency's requirements, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) had declared a number of vacancies for messengers which they needed to fill urgently. Mr Mackessy transferred to DETI on 19 November 2001 to fill one of those vacancies. The transfer was arranged through normal personnel channels.