Historical Enquiries Team head Dave Cox to step down

HET director Dave Cox has been under pressure because of a damning report from a national police watchdog

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The head of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), Dave Cox, will step down on 28 September.

Mr Cox, a former police commander in London, will have an advisory role for two weeks before ending his work with the HET, which he led since its formation in 2005.

He was appointed after his retirement from the Metropolitan Police.

The HET is a specialist police team set up to re-examine 3,260 deaths during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Director of HET military operations, Paul Johnston, will also leave at the end of his contract on 28 September.

There was confusion over Mr Cox's future after policing board members were told he would step down this month.

But last Saturday, PSNI sources insisted that his departure would be later in the year.

Analysis

The head of the Historical Enquiries Team is to step down from the post on the 28th of this month.

The decision represents a major U-turn by the chief constable.

Matt Baggott and Policing Board members engaged in heated exchanges last week when he told them Dave Cox would retire at the end of December.

Board members disagreed and said he should step down at the end of this month, when a new leadership team will take control of the HET.

After a private meeting between the chief constable and Policing Board members on Thursday afternoon, it was announced that Mr Cox will step down from his role as director of the HET at the end of this month.

He will then act in an advisory role for two weeks before ending work with the HET entirely.

It's understood he will then be deployed on other duties by the PSNI until his retirement on 31 December.

Pressure had been mounting on Mr Cox following a damning inspection report that criticised the way the HET reviewed military killings.

An email had been sent to policing board members that stated: "The director of policy has asked me to inform you that the Chief Constable has confirmed this afternoon that both Dave Cox and Paul Johnston will leave their posts in the HET at the end of this month.

Bitter row

"The new leadership team, referred to at (Thursday's) board meeting, take over on 28th September 2013."

Mr Johnston is the HET's director of the military operations.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott had previously said Mr Cox would retire at the end of December, but policing board members had wanted him to leave at the end of this month.

Disagreement over his departure date sparked a bitter row between Mr Baggott and board members.

There were heated exchanges at a private meeting between the PSNI leadership and the board, as members made it clear they would not accept Mr Baggott's decision to allow Mr Cox to remain in post until the end of the year.

The board convened a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue with the Chief Constable which resulted in the announcement of Mr Cox's exit date.

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