Theresa May’s parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist party will face a judicial challenge in the divisional court in London within the next few weeks.
The high court notified both sides’ legal teams on Friday that because of the urgency of the claim it should be heard in October at the beginning of the new legal term. It is likely to begin on 26 October.
McClean, the son of one of the founders of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement, Paddy Joe McClean, is spearheading the challenge to the arrangement through which the DUP gained a £1bn aid package for the region.
The basis of the claim is that any political agreement between the government and the DUP is in breach of the Good Friday agreement under which the government undertook to exercise its power in Northern Ireland “with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions”.
The legal challenge also argues that the political deal breaches the Bribery Act 2010 and is in any event unlawful as a corrupt arrangement.
The crowdfunded challenge has so far raised more than £66,000 to pay court fees and for lawyers. The application on behalf of McClean was made by the prominent London solicitor David Greene of the law firm Edwin Coe who was involved in the successful Article 50 supreme court challenge.
McClean said, in his view, that the agreement was “no more and no less than the purchase by the government of votes in parliament using public money. It is clear to me and the thousands who have contributed to the crowdfunding on CrowdJustice that that is simply wrong and puts the Good Friday Agreement in severe danger. We crowdfunded the case and we have many supporters. They will be heartened by the court decision and I hope others will now join us.”
This article was written by Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent, for theguardian.com on Friday 8th September 2017 13.31 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010