Complaint rejected against RUC/PSNI officer who threatened to shoot motorist

The Police Ombudsman has rejected a complaint against officer who threatened to shoot motorist.

THE Police Ombudsman has rejected a complaint by a member of the public against a police officer who admitted threatening to shoot the complainant.

The man complained to the watchdog of “oppressive behaviour” towards him as he attempted to collect his son from a concert on the Boucher Road.

He at first tried to park in a closed-off slip road before attempting to turn into a lane blocked off by a police Land Rover.

He said the officer grabbed him by the arms and stuck his knuckles into his throat causing bruising under his chin which had been confirmed by the Mater Hospital.

However, ombudsman investigators, who interviewed the officer and took accounts from members of the public and other police officers, reviewed Body Worn (BWV) video footage of the incident and rejected the man’s complaint.

The officer denied any wrongdoing but admitted to threatening to shoot after the complainant had driven towards him. He said his actions were necessary due to the man’s “aggressive demeanour” and his failure to heed police instructions.

A report was also sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) which directed no prosecution of the officer.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.

Former RUC chief ‘failed to act’ over plot to kill Catholic officer

Family insist findings point to collusion

A FORMER RUC chief constable “failed to act” when he was “quite probably”aware of a plot to murder one of his own Catholic officers, a damning report has found.

The murder of sergeant Joe Campbell – who was gunned down as he left a Co Antrim police station – was one of the most controversial killings of the Troubles. The father-of-eight was hit by a single high velocity shot to the head as he closed the main gates of Cushendall RUC police station on February 25 1977. Sgt Campbell’s family believe his murder involved collusion between rogue elements of the police and loyalist paramilitaries. In his report yesterday Police Ombudsman Dr Michael said evidence of collusion was “inconclusive” but concluded the death was “preventable”. He said there was “sufficient, reliable evidence” that the then head of Special Branch and “quiet probably the chief constable were aware of concerns, which had been documented, about the threat to his life and failed to act upon them”. The RUC chief constable at the time of the murder was Sir Kenneth Newman, a former Metropolitan Police commissioner now aged 87. He told Dr Maguire’s investigators he had no recollection of the Sgt Campbell case. In a statement yesterday the murdered man’s widow Rosemary said she was unhappy with the report, which has taken 12 years to complete, “because it does not contain the full account of the murder which I had hoped for.” Sgt Campbell’s son Tommy insisted the findings amounted to “collusion”. “If you read the report what other conclusions can you come to…. Senior officers…. decide that it’s not worth their time to stop the murder of one of their colleagues what more stark definition of collusion could you get.” RUC/PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Findlay said the report “makes difficult reading”.

Staggering revelations in Ombudsman’s report ‘difficult reading’

The Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire said: “On the basis of the information available I can neither discount nor substantiate the allegations of a wider conspiracy into the murder of Sgt Campbell,” he said. When asked last night who was head of RUC Special Branch at the time the PSNI said it was “unable to provide that information”. However, The Irish News can reveal the man who headed the secret department was Mick Slevin who has since died. Sgt Campbell’s death sent shockwaves through the small seaside village which until that point had been relatively untouched by the Troubles. He is believed to have been gunned down by notorious UVF gunman and security force agent Robin Jackson who was associated with the infamous Glenanne gang. The report reveals that senior RUC officers were warned by concerned Special Branch members that Joe Campbell was under threat but they did not act. The ombudsman said the murder was “preventable” and that subsequent investigation into the murder was flawed on a number of different occasions”. It also emerged that police documents relating to the case have disappeared and that a retired RUC officer based in Ballymena at the time of the murder has refused to cooperate with the ombudsman’s investigation. Joe Campbell jnr, who first lodged the complaint with the ombudsman’s office in 2002, said the family’s campaign for justice for their father would go on. “Today we have got a report. What we don’t have, we don’t have the truth and we certainly don’t have any justice,” he said.

‘There was a threat on my father’s life. If you do nothing about it either before or after is it not collusion? – Tommy Campbell.

Three years after the killing retired RUC Special Branch man Charles McCormick was acquitted of Sgt Campbell’s murder. He was convicted of charges including possession of explosives and firearms and armed robbery. These were all quashed on appeal. A second man Anthony O’Doherty, originally from Portglenone in Co Antrim, was convicted of withholding information about the murder but later received a royal prerogative of mercy. A republican, O’Doherty was recruited by McCormick to become a Special Branch informer. In 2009 McCormick was rearrested and questioned about the killing and a file was later sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS). However, in 2013 the PPS directed that no action be taken. RUC/PSNI deputy chief constable Alistair Finlay said the report “makes difficult reading”. “It is clear there were significant shortcomings in the RUC handling of information prior to the murder and both subsequent police investigations into Sgt Campbell’s murder,” he said.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News,for the original story.

Who is Sir Kenneth Newman?

BORN in Sussex, Sir Kenneth Newman was a well-known and respected police officer in England before he turned his attention to the North of Ireland.

He moved through the ranks becoming a sergeant in the 1950s, before being appointed a detective inspector with the Vice Squad in the early 1960s and later becoming a superintendent and chief-superintendent. In 1973, during the early years of the Troubles, his policing career saw him move to the North of Ireland where he took up the positition of deputy chief constable of the RUC. Within three years he became chief constable of the force. During this time he introduced the policy of Ulsterisation, a strategy aimed at giving the police a greater security role. The strategy saw the RUC replace the British army as the dominant security force in the North of Ireland. Sir Kenneth left the RUC in 1980 during the Hunger Strike period and returned to England. He then served for three years as inspector of constabulary and commander of Police Staff College at Bra shill in Hampshire. During his time at Bramshill he honed his public order skills. In 1982, he became commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and subsequently initiated a major reform. His reform included disbanding the controversial Special Patrol Group – a specialist serious public disorder team – replacing it with the Territorial Support Group. He also established an area-based policing plan, which moved resources into eight geographical areas. Having been knighted in 1978, he retired in 1987.

With many thanks to: Marie Louise McCrory, The Irish News.

Ombudsman launches legal action against the Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Baggott and the RUC/PSNI

Watchdog says police ‘have stalled’ investigations into deaths

THE RUC/PSNI is facing legal action from the Police Ombudsman, which accuses it of refusing to provide information about more than 60 deaths. 1975096_265836583595060_1936534027_n The BBC understands that the Ombudsman has been trying to find out if police acted on information it was given prior to a dissident republican bomb attack. Weeks later, Constable Peadar Heffron was seriously injured in a car bombing. Michael Maguire has served notice on the RUC/PSNI over its alleged failure to provide his investigators with material and said his inquiries had been stalled. The ombudsman’s office’s judicial reveiw will seek to compel the RUC/PSNI to provide the ombudsman with information. Dr Maguire said: “We cannot have a situation where a public body, and particularly the police, can decide whether or not it will cooperate with a criminal or misconduct investigation, particularly where legislation requires them to do so.” The ombudsman handles complaints about the conduct of officers and has undertaken a series of hard-hitting investigations that found serious faults, although in many other cases exonerating detectives. Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) chief constable Sir Hugh Orde, who formerly headed the RUC/PSNI, has called for a similar regulatory system to be introduced across the UK. Dr Maguire, pictured below said despite repeated requests over past months, the RUC/PSNI has on more than 100 occasions either refused to provide information to his office or has said it must first explain and jusify why the material is wanted.

 

 

He said: “The police have taken the view that they will decide whether or not to provide us with information and in many cases have now decided not to.” He said the legal action was unusual and unfortunate but necessary, adding: “The many thousands of people who make complaints to us every year do so on the basis that we have access to all the police information we need to independently investigate their complaint. “That principle is enshined in law and accepted across the community. Investigation by negotiation is not acceptable.” An  RUC/PSNI spokesman said the organisation has a legal responsibility for the care and management of all information which must be taken extremely seriously. “At the same time the PSNI also recognises the statutory responsibility to provide information to the Police Ombudsman, enabling exercise of his functions and legal responsibilities. “Police are currently seeking to agree a solution with PONI around these complicated, and sometimes unfortunately competing, legal issues. “We will continue to furfil our legal obligations with the primary consideration being that of protecting life in accordance with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human rights The .” Steps to protect life taken by the police in public fora like inquests have included the ommission of the Northern Ireland Secretary, which might identify some witnesses (informers) deemed to be at risk. The police spokesman said: “Until we can get a resolution, PSNI beleives that it has resonded aporopriately to each request, giving careful consideration on a case by case basis, to ensure that the respective legal requirements are met. “PSNI will continue to work with PONI to seek an agreement over our respective obligations and ensure we both have a shared understanding of the legal framework.” In September the ombudsman signed an agreement with chief constable Matt (the maggot) Baggott covering how requests are made and related procedures. The ombudsman’s office said: “However, investigations into the circumstances surronding more than 60 deaths/murders – both those from the past and more recently – have now been stalled by an RUC/PSNI refusal to provide certain material.” A spokeswomen for the Policing Board said: “Police cooperation and provision of information to the institutions with legislative responsibility for delevering independent oversight and accountability of the PSNI is critical. “The appilcation for leave for a judicial reveiw by the Police Ombudsman is very significant and a matter of great concern. Board members will discuss this with the chief constable at its meeting this week.” Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Baggott also anounced yesterday that he was stepping down earlily. He was due to retire at the end of August, but his departure has been brought forward. Mr Baggott was due to retire at the end of August but now will be leaving at the end of this month.

With many thanks to: Michael McHugh, The Irish News, for the origional story.

Coroner in Sean Brown murder, Bellaghy, threatens court action over report

“Unless the HET report is provided in 14 days I will go to the High Court – Mr John Leckey, Coroner’s Office.

THE North’s most senior coroner has threatened to go to court to force Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Bagott to release the report into the murder of Derry GAA official Sean Brown.

The devolopment came during a preliminary inquest hearing yesterday, the father-of-six’s abduction and brutal killing in May 1997. Mr Brown’s family, their legal team and the Coroner’s Office have been denied access to a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report which was completed last year. The investigation was launched after the Brown family raised concerns about the police investigation into the sectarian murder, one the most shocking of the Troubles. In an unusual move, Mr John Leckey warned a solicitor acting for the RUC/PSNI yesterday that he would seek a High Court subpoena compelling it to hand over the report. He said he has been “dealing with the inquest for Sean Brown for years and years”. “Unless the HET report is provided in 14 days I will go to the High Court….. to require the chief constable to produce the report to me,” he said. He added that to seek the subpoena was “a procedure of last resort as far as I am concerned”. During the short hearing Mr Leckey also insisted the start date for an inquest into the circumstances of Mr Brown’s death was “set in stone”. It is due to begin in January next year. Mr Brown was abducted while locking the gates of Bellaghy Wolf Tone’s GAA club, of which he was chairman. It is believed the 61-year-old was driven past Toomebridge RUC station to a secluded laneway near Randalstown in Co An trim where he was shot in the head six times. His body was later found beside his burning car.

The LVF is believed to have been responsible for the killing which sent shockwaves through the GAA community. Speaking after yestery’s hearing, the Brown family solicitor Kevin Winters said Mr Leckey’s comments represent “a major breakthrough in the fight for justice for the family of Sean Brown”.992987_534312249950028_1214318567_n Paul O’ Conner from the Pat Finucane Centre, who attended the hearing with Mr Brown’s son, accused the RUC/PSNI of “dragging their heels for years”. “They have not produced the documention required by the coroner to carry out a proper inquest,” he said. “This has caused untold distress for the Brown family.” A spokesman for the RUC/PSNI last night said: “PSNI are aware of the comments made by the coroner, Mr John Leckey, today and are considering these in relation to the report. Meanwhile a preliminary hearing into the death of Catholic teenager Gerard Lawlor has heard that an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has been given a “new impetus” since ombudsman Michael Maguire took up office in July 2012. Mr Lawlor, a father-of-one, was shot dead by the UDA as he walked close to the Antrim Road in July 2002. A represtative of the ombudsman’s office told the coroner John Leckey that the delay in producing the report into the 19-year-old’s murder was down to “some matters inhibiting our ability to move forward”. “I don’t want to go into details to what they are,” he said. The Lawler family solicitor, Niall Murphy, said he had met with representatives of the Police Ombudsman and had “no objections” to their submissions to the ccoroner.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.

 

Policing watchdog cannot investigate informer complaints

‘We can’t probe bids to recruit informers’

THE Police OOmbudsman’s office has admitted it cannot investigate claims about attempts to recruit members of the public as police informers. The SDLP is to seek a meeting with Ombudsman Michael Maguire, such is the concern that not all aspects of policing in the North can be investigated by a body accountable to devolved administration at Stormont.

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The revelation came after a Co Tyrone man who complained to Dr Maguire’s office was told to forward his complaint to a PO box in London. Patrick Carty from human rights group Justicofe Watch Ireland last night said the case appears to represent “a seismic shift in the job of the Police Ombudsman”. The controversy centres on the Tyrone man’s complaint that police were “harassing” him after he was subjected to two stop-and-search operations and two attempts to recruit him as an informer in the Dungannon area. The man claimed that a uniformed officer tried to push a “wad” of cash through the window of his work van at the side of a busy main road and that weeks later he was approached outside his work by plain-clothes officers. He lodged a complaint with the ombudsman but an official wrote to him to say the matter “falls outside the remit of the office”. He was told to contact the Investigatory Powers Tribunal through a PO box address in London. It is understood to be the first time that the Ombudsman’s office has admitted it was unable to investigate a specific complaint against police because the allegations related “solely to approaches to become a covert human intelligence source”.

‘The Police Ombudsman responsible for investigating all complaints against the PSNI and I find that a strange interpretation of the functions of the Ombudsman and something we will want to discuss further – Dolores Kelly.

Policing board member and SDLP deputy leader Dolores Kelly dedescribed the development as a “strange departure on previous practice” and said she had raised the case with senior police. In the past the SDLP has expressed concerns about a lack of local accountability for security agencies – including MI5 – and the party is opposed to the establishment of the National Crime Agency in the North. Ms Kelly, said she was surprised by Ombadsman’s response. “The Police Ombudsman is responsible for investigating all complaints against the PSNI and I find that strange interpretation of the functions of the ombusman and something we will want to discuss further,” she said. Ms Kelly said she has raised the case with Assistant Cheif Constable Drew Harris who oversees the operation of the PSNI’s C3 intelligence unit – formerly known as Special Branch. A spokesman for the ombudsman confirmed that those involved in the approaches were police officers under the direction of Chief Constable Matt (maggot) Baggot at the time. However, the spokesman could not say if authorisation was given at the time or retrospectively, saying that was a matter for the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. In the past the ombudsman has investigated complaints involving informers – most notably Operation Ballast. Which exposed collusion between the RUC and police agents within loyalist parmilitary groups. The ombudsman’s office issued a statement that read: “Members of the public can complain to the Police Ombudsman’s Office about any aspect of a police officer’s conduct which concerns them – there is no aspect of his or her public conduct which we cannot look at. “The Police Ombudsman’s Office looks at possible misconduct of police officers. However, the very fact that a Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act power has been used will not mean that there has been misconduct and the tribunal may be that appropriate forum in some cases. “In this case a member of the public complained to us that he had been stopped by police four times over a short period. He said these included instances when he had been at work and on two of the occasions he had been asked to become an informant. He said he felt he was being harrassed. “The police were allowed in prescribed circumstances to stop people and ask them questions andto ask them if they wish to become informants. A member of the public can complain, however, about the manner in which this is done or the conduct of the officers doing it. “In this particular complaint our investigators took the veiw that there was nothing about the officer’s conduct which indicated they were guilty of misconduct, nor indeed that, taken togeather, the incidents amounted to harrassment. “While we have looked at the conduct of the police involved, we have advised the complainant that if he remains concerned about the approaches asking him to become an informant, he may wish to contact the tribunal.” Patrick Carty from human rights group Justice Watch Ireland, last night expressed concern at the development. “It was our beleif that the Police Ombudsman had full investigatory powers in all aspects of the PSNI and its work,” he said. “This case shows that dealing with legislation such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and covert human intelligence sources, that is not the case. “It seems the authority of the security services, such as MI5, when working with the PSNI supersedes these structures. Fermanagh and South Tyrone Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliot said informers were needed in the fight against dissident republicans. “There is terrorism ongoing at the moment including from republicans. If police believe informers are needed and can help then I don’t think anyone should be trying to indicate otherwise,” he said. “Every campaign in the Troubles required informers.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News

Dr Michael Maguire to be NI Police Ombudsman

Dr Michael Maguire
Dr Michael Maguire is Northern Ireland‘s third Police Ombudsman
 

Dr Michael Maguire has been confirmed as Northern Ireland’s new Police Ombudsman.

Al Hutchinson stepped down from the role in January after criticism of the performance of his office, which holds the police service to account.

Dr Maguire is currently the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hutchinson became the second police ombudsman for Northern Ireland when he succeeded Nuala O’Loan in 2007.

In 2011, three independent reports were highly critical of the work being carried out by the ombudsman’s office.

Last month, Justice Minister David Ford began a public consultation on reforms to the Police Ombudsman’s Office, covering proposed changes to its structure, role and powers.

Mr Ford said the consultation outlined the potential for “significant changes” to the office’s law and governance.

Dr Maguire has worked at Criminal Justice Inspection since 2008.

Before that, he was a partner in a consulting firm, and he has been involved in strategic and organisational reviews across the public sector.

He was chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2006.

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Sam Marshall Family Continue Demand for Inquest

Sam Marshall

Last Friday [March 23], what was officially described as a preliminary hearing by the Six County Coroner, John Leckey, was held into the murder of former republican prisoner Sam Marshall in Lurgan on 7th March, 1990. Ever since his murder, the Marshall family have always suspected state involvement in his death. However, the events which transpired at the Coroner’s Court in Belfast amounted to nothing less than a farce.

On Wednesday 21st March, the Coroner’s Office faxed a letter to the Marshall family’s legal representative.

Lest there be any doubt what the purpose of the proposed hearing was meant to be, the communication from the Coroner’s Office clearly and unequivocally stated:

“The agenda is:

  1. Disclosure
  2. Arrangements to hold an inquest.”

However, from the outset of the hearing, it quickly became apparent that this agenda was not, in fact, to be adhered to.

Beginning by repeating what he said at a similar hearing in 2008 into the Marshall murder, Mr Leckey said that as a trial linked to the murder had been held (in 1992), he was now of the view that he would further delay a decision on any inquest until an investigation is conducted by the Police Ombudsman’s office in case it unearths new information.

The Coroner said: “At the present time I cannot say an inquest is necessary and I am delaying that decision until after the Police Ombudsman’s report.”

Last year, the Police Ombudsman’s office, which probes complaints against the Six County police force, was hit by a damning report on its handling of “historic” cases where collusion between British state forces and unionist death squads is suspected. As a result, all such cases were effectively put into abeyance.

A legal representative for the Six County Police Ombudsman’s office, Jim Kitson, told the hearing that it faced difficulties in investigating what he described as “historic cases”, but hoped those would be resolved and a plan to review all such cases could soon be implemented. He added that it could take at least six years before that initial process would be complete.

The Ombudsman’s legal representative also said it remains to be seen where Sam Marshall’s case will be allocated within the ‘Prioritisation Matrix’, so that the case can be investigated and reported. He confirmed that it had not even been allocated yet, and indeed could not give any assurances as to when this would take place.

The Coroner then said that he would take no further action until the Police Ombudsman’s case was completed – effectively suspending any decision on holding an inquest for at least six years or more.

Despite submissions opposing the Coroner’s move from legal representatives for the Marshall family and the two other men targeted in the shooting in 1990, Mr Leckey then closed the hearing.

In 2008, Mr Leckey directed the Marshall family to enter into a process with both the Historical Enquiries Team and the Police Ombudsman’s Office which the Marshall family reluctantly did.

In September last year, the Ombudsman’s Office finally wrote to the Marshall family informing them that three years on from 2008, no investigation had been initiated.

The Marshall family also reluctantly entered into a process with the HET which also commenced in 2008.

Earlier this month, on the twenty-second anniversary of Sam Marshall’s murder, his family launched a book detailing many previously unknown facts surrounding his death.

Thousands joined with the Marshall family in March 2010 to demand the truth about Sam's murderOver 400 people attended the book launch held in Lurgan on Wednesday 7th March. A second follow-up launch was also held in the Conway Mill in Belfast the following week.

Among the facts revealed in the book are:

  • Sam and the two men accompanying him at the time of his murder had been subjected to intense surveillance by Special Branch and British military personnel on the night of the attack – a fact previously and persistently denied by the RUC and the British Government.
  • The surveillance operation had commenced in late 1989. It was then suspended following the arrest and charging of all three men in January 1990 but was re-activated upon their release on bail.
  • The operation had been initiated by Special Branch personnel who regularly briefed the British military personnel involved in the operation.
  • The surveillance teams had followed the men each time they had signed for bail at Lurgan barracks prior to March 7th.
  • On the night of the murder, at least nine British undercover soldiers were engaged in the surveillance operation directed against the men.
  • On the night of the murder, the British soldiers were using a total of six cars: a red Ford Orion, a silver Vauxhall Cavalier, a grey Volkswagen Jetta, a grey Peugeot, a red Vauxhall Astra, and a red Austin Maestro with the registration plate bearing the number KJI 1486 – a car referred to by the two survivors of the attack and by other civilian witnesses at the time of the murder.
  • All of the soldiers denied being aware of any potential threat against Sam, even though he himself had been informed by the RUC of a potential death threat against him.
  • Two soldiers using the red Ford Orion drove to Lurgan Barracks to monitor the arrival and departure of Sam and his two companions.
  • These two soldiers were the men seen by Sam and his two companions the front observation post at the barracks.
  • Another two soldiers, using the silver Vauxhall Cavalier, parked their car and followed Sam and his two companions on foot along North Street.
  • These two soldiers also admitted they were only a short distance behind Sam and his two companions when the two gunmen opened fire.
  • The two soldiers also denied actually seeing the gunmen fire a total of 49 shots, but did admit to seeing the gunmen run back to the red Rover after the shooting. Neither took any action to stop the gunmen.
  • In a statement made to the RUC after the murder, one of these two soldiers on foot admitted that one of the survivors of the attack, Tony McCaughey, had actually ran past him in North Street as Tony was escaping from the gunmen.
  • In statements made to the RUC after the murder, none of the soldiers admitted seeing the red Rover prior to the shooting, even though it had been sighted on at least three occasions in North Street by several civilian witnesses.
  • Two gloves were recovered by the RUC from the area at Halliday’s Bridge on the M1 motorway where the red Rover was burned out.
  • Both gloves were placed in clearly marked and labelled evidence bags. These bags, containing the gloves, were obtained by the original RUC murder investigation team. The gloves were then “lost”.
  • Eighteen members of the CID and four uniformed RUC personnel were involved in the original murder investigation team.
  • The senior investigating officer over this team was Detective Chief Inspector Alan Clegg.
  • A second investigation team supervised by Detective Chief Inspector McFarland interviewed the British soldiers.
  • HET stated that DCI McFarland also interviewed “at least eight” of those Special Branch personnel who had been involved in briefing the British military surveillance team.
  • Out of 22 RUC personnel involved in the original murder investigation, along with “at least eight” Special Branch personnel involved with nine or more British soldiers connected to the surveillance operation – totalling a possible minimum of 39 members of the state forces – the HET only interviewed four RUC personnel.
  • The weapons used in the murder of Sam and the attempted murders of his two companions were ballistically linked to three other murders and one attempted murder in the Lurgan/Portadown/Dungannon area between 1991 and 1997.
  • Intelligence also linked a fourth murder to that of Sam’s.
  • The HET has consistently refused to indicate to our family where and when these murders took place.
  • No-one was ever been convicted in relation to these other four murders and the one attempted murder.
  • Although contacted by the HET, Detective Chief Inspector Clegg “did not engage”, in other words, refused to co-operate, with the HET. (Since then, Alan Clegg is deceased).

It should be pointed out many of the above facts were only disclosed to the Marshall family following a HET review of existing documentation held by the PSNI and not by a full re-investigation of the murder. The HET process in Sam’s case was solely based upon an examination of the documentation and material belonging to the RUC murder investigation team with no attempt having been made by the HET to uncover new evidence or intelligence that would actually solve his murder.

Furthermore, those facts that did emerge were deliberately withheld from the Marshall family and from the public for over twenty years.

Matt BaggottAdditionally, at a meeting with HET in 2011, the Marshall family was informed that the HET had not seen any evidence which would disprove collusion.

This would indicate that it was highly likely that the summary report of the HET review could well have been tempered for political expediency by senior officers within both the HET and the PSNI. The HET is an investigative unit attached to the PSNI. It is answerable to the Chief Constable of the PSNI. It is not independent in the true sense of the word and has been publicly criticised by several human rights organisations.

Mr Leckey has a copy of the HET review report and is aware of those facts contained in it.

What other “new” information does he now need in order to proceed with an inquest?

More significantly, what exactly happened in the 46 hours between 1.06pm on Wednesday 21st March, when the Coroner’s letter (quoted above) was faxed to the Marshall family’s legal representative, and 11.00am on Friday 23rd March when the hearing commenced which completely changed the agenda of the hearing?

Was pressure put on John Leckey to further delay making arrangements for an inquest into Sam Marshall’s murder? If so, who applied that pressure?

Any suggestion that the Coroners Court in the Six Counties is an effective or impartial means to address those cases where British state involvement is suspected was exploded by the farce that unfolded at court on Friday last.

Earlier, on the same morning as the hearing into Sam Marshall’s murder, the Coroner also further delayed commencement of the inquests into the infamous 1982 shoot-to-kill cases in which five unarmed republicans and one civilian were executed by the RUC in three separate shootings in County Armagh. In those cases, the PSNI is attempting to prevent the disclosure of many relevant documents it holds by way of Public Interest Immunity certificates. The PSNI is seeking to withhold vital sections from over 175,000 documents, containing over 1 million pages, from public disclosure.

It is quite clear that the Sam Marshall case is as explicit a case of collusion that exists – and that it is evidentially as strong in respect of collusion and British state involvement as the multiple murders of innocent civilians at Graham’s bookies on the Ormeau Road in Belfast or at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down.

Yet the Six County Coroner will not even give an undertaking to hold an inquest. It is totally irrational that he wants to wait on a Police Ombudsman report, which hasn’t even been allocated in the Ombudsman’s ‘prioritisation matrix’ and, as such, may not even be looked at by the Ombudsman for at least 6 years given the existing backlog of over seventy cases involving collusion.

It was therefore unsurprising that the Marshall family reacted with justifiable anger in the aftermath of the Coroner’s decision.

The family said they had fully expected the preliminary hearing in Belfast to agree arrangements for an inquest and added: “We are very angry and upset that after having to wait for twenty two years, we are now going to have to wait for up to a further six years. We are also actively considering legal action over the period ahead.”

 

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