PSNI culture defends RUC Special Branch
RFJ CEO Mark Thompson said:
“The PSNI has treated the office of the Police Ombudsman with utter contempt when it comes to legacy issues, and by extension the families affected by collusion.
“The extent of this treatment was publicly evident when the previous Ombudsman, Dr. Maguire, had to issue the threat of legal proceedings against the PSNI in order to obtain disclosures crucial to numerous investigations where collusion by the RUC was being investigated.
“This was an unprecedented action.
“A culture exists within the PSNI that seeks to defend the RUC Special Branch and this is the root cause of the problem.
“Defending the indefensible is no longer acceptable.
“The PSNI has been in the vanguard of denying families access to files and documents concerning the murders of their loved ones; despite their public pronouncements to the contrary. One only has to look at the long list of cases where they have fought families in the courts to prevent disclosures and the publication of reports in murders by illegal paramilitaries.
“The ordinary public might ask why?
“The families bereaved and those injured might well guess the answer.
“It is important to point out that the CJI statement and report relate only to one incident in 2018 when Dr. Maguire was Ombudsman.
“This was alerted to by Niall Murphy, solicitor for the families concerned, and Relatives for Justice, when crucial evidence in the form of disclosures in a related civil case emerged, but the Ombudsman had not received these same disclosures despite being assured by the PSNI that he had received all documents.
“A further failure to disclose also occurred in respect of the same set of cases in 2019, which the current Ombudsman Marie Anderson, brought to the attention of the families, solicitor Niall Murphy and Relatives for Justice in early 2020.
“Both of these instances relate directly to a series of sectarian murders by loyalist paramilitaries, not least in South Belfast involving the UDA, in which State agents were involved.
“In particular, they relate to the PONI investigation “Operation Achille” which involves the atrocity at Sean Graham’s bookmakers on February 5th 1992 that claimed five lives and injured many more.
“They also relate to the movements of weapons and armaments by loyalism in respect to the importation of weapons from South Africa in the late 1980’s. This provided loyalism with an unprecedented capacity to carry out sectarian murders and political assassinations.
“The Ombudsman must be provided with robust and requisite powers enabling direct and unhindered access to all documents and evidence held by the PSNI when investigating such serious incidents. Anything less would merely facilitate the continued and unacceptable tactics of delay, prevarication, and concealment experienced over this past two decades.”
A copy of Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) statement can be found here:CJI report on PSNI disclosures to PONI