James Henry Clarke, an 80-year-old retired pastor who admitted in the 1980s to sexually abusing two children in Northern Ireland, is set to be extradited from Canada.

Clarke's application for a judicial review of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada's decision to have him extradited has been dismissed, documents from the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan dated August 9 show.

"He's decided to not challenge the Court of Appeal's decision and he's going to go back to Northern Ireland to face these charges," Chris Veeman, Clarke's lawyer, said, according to CBC.

"The Canadian government will arrange transport for him and then hand him over."

Veeman said this should happen within the next 45 days.

According to the court documents, Clarke was born in North Belfast in 1942. He moved to Canada in the late 1970s and is a dual citizen of Canada and the UK.

The court documents say that evidence alleges Clarke touched a youth, "W.B.," in a sexual way on two occasions between January 1, 1966, and January 1, 1972.

W.B. reported these incidents to UK police in 1980 and an investigation ensued. 

In June of 1982, an officer traveled to Canada and interviewed Clarke, who recalled sleeping in a bed beside W.B. but denied the alleged indecent assault. 

Clarke was interviewed again by UK police about other matters in July of 1985. During this interview, Clarke admitted to sexually abusing W.B. in one instance, but claimed to not recall another incident that allegedly occurred at the children's home where Clarke was the Assistant Head.

UK police submitted a file to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland (DPP) and a decision was made not to prosecute Clarke, arguing that the passage of time had rendered any proceedings “stale and inappropriate."

In August 1985, Clarke wrote to the officer who had interviewed him and indicated that he had been going over events in his mind and could recall an incident where he abused another youth, P.B. The police acted on this admission. They traced P.B., who then provided a written statement a few weeks later. The incident was not referred by the police to the DPP because of the earlier decision that had been taken not to prosecute for the offences against W.B. due to the passage of time.

In November 1985, Clarke was sent a letter written by the investigating officer advising that the facts had been reported to the Crime Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Headquarters. In the letter, Clarke was told that the Crime Branch had “studied the papers and have decided that the particular act is not now punishable in law by reason of the time factor involved.”

In 2012, nearly two decades later, the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland (the “Inquiry”) was established to investigate the abuse of children who had lived in institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.

Public hearings began in 2014 and the Inquiry concluded hearings in July 2016. A report was published the following January.

Based on this report and evidence given to the Inquiry, the BBC produced a television documentary about the allegations against Clarke.

In the documentary, Clarke admitted to a BBC journalist that he had indecently assaulted teenage boys in care homes in Northern Ireland.

A victim of a self confessed paedophile has challenged his abuser to return from Canada to Northern Ireland to face him. Although he admitted his crimes to the police, Henry Clarke wasn't prosecuted. Following our investigation into the case, the Public Prosecution Service has said it's now carrying out a review. Our investigations reporter Kevin Magee has more.

Posted by BBC Newsline on Friday, April 7, 2017

Clarke's acknowledgment led the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPSNI) to ask the police to conduct a fresh investigation into these matters.

A police file submitted to the PPSNI in July 2018 concluded that “the decision taken by the office of the DPP in 1985 not to prosecute the offences against W.B. and the subsequent decision taken by police in respect of the offences against P.B. were wrong."

On June 17, 2019, UK authorities determined to prosecute Clarke on three counts of indecent assault against a male.

In August 2021, Clarke's extradition proceedings got the go-ahead.

Clarke consented to his committal for extradition on March 31, 2022, meaning that he agreed that there was sufficient admissible evidence of “conduct that, had it occurred in Canada, would justify committal for trial in Canada” for the offences.

In his application for a judicial review of the extradition, Clarke cited his advanced age, serious health problems, two disabled children, and elderly wife for whom he is the primary caregiver.