Below is a press release by Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast. He is party spokesman for Policing and Justice. He sits on the Policing Board which holds the police accountable – unlike the Police Ombudsman’s office it seems.
Commenting after leaks of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate Report into the operation of the Police Ombudsman’s Office appeared in the Sunday Times, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly repeated the demand for Al Hutchinson to go and called for the immediate publication of the report.
Mr Kelly said:
“A Sunday newspaper carried a series of extracts from the Criminal Justice Inspectorate report into the operation of the Police Ombudsman Office. It is clear that Dr. Michael Maguire’s report is complete and it now needs to be published without further delay.
Public confidence in the Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson is already at rock bottom and it is important that swift action is taken to restore the credibility of this crucially important policing structure.
If the leaked detail contained in this report is true it is clear that the removal of Mr Hutchinson, necessary as that is, will in itself not suffice. It seems that his report has uncovered a series of deep failures including a lowering of operational independence; key staff disassociating themselves from wrongful findings; the dominance of ex-police officers in decision making ; an arrangement to avoid criticism of Special Branch in inquiries into historic cases and the rewriting of reports at their final stage in contradiction to the findings.
There are other deep-seated problems identified including the use of former members of the RUC in carrying out investigations. The conflict of interest this causes in the office’s work on historic collusion cases is very obvious.
It has been already well documented that there are very serious issues of independence and effectiveness in the Police Ombudsman’s Office. The report vindicates the deep criticism of the Office by the families in the cases of the Mc Gurk’s Bar bombing and the Loughinisland Massacre.
We have already called for Al Hutchinson to resign. If the leaks in the CJI Report are true then it seems what has been going on within the Police Ombudsman’s Office is actually even worse than people had feared.”