Remove North's Police Ombudsman: SF

A weekend newspaper report has put pressure on the NI Police Ombudsman's office after it outlined a number of criticisms over its performance.

The draft Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) report, leaked to website The Detail - and featured in yesterday's Sunday Times - is the third review to raise concerns over the effectiveness of the body this year.

Among the new criticisms said to be in the report - that is with the Department of Justice ahead of publication - are claims that Ombudsman Al Hutchison has 'lost the trust of his senior investigators'.

Specifically, the report said allegations of police wrongdoing during the Troubles may not have been fully and properly investigated.

The Police Ombudsman had originally requested the report from the CJI assessing the office's independence from the police after two previous investigations were critical of the body.

Today, the Sinn Fein politician and spokesperson on policing, Gerry Kelly has gone further and has repeated the party's demand for Al Hutchinson to go and called for the immediate publication of the report.

"The 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 [RUC] Special Branch in inquiries into historic cases and the rewriting of reports at their final stage in contradiction to the findings," he fumed.

"The report vindicates the deep criticism of the Office by the families in the cases of the McGurk'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," he concluded.


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