Former officers withdraw police ombudsman help

Creggan bomb scene Three people were murdered in the IRA attack

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The association representing retired NI police officers will not encourage members to engage with the police ombudsman on certain investigations.

The association said it would do so over historical investigations where breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights are alleged.

It follows a report into a 1988 IRA bomb attack in Londonderry that killed three people.

The ombudsman criticised the police for failing to warn people about the bomb.

The Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association (NIRPOA) has written to Justice Minister David Ford complaining about the report.

Bomb in flat

In August 1988, a booby-trap device exploded at 38 Kildrum Gardens in the Creggan area of Derry.

Two people - Eugene Dalton, 55, and Sheila Lewis, 60, - died in the explosion. A third, Gerard Curran, was injured and died seven months later.

They had gone to the flat to check on the occupant, who had been kidnapped by the IRA as part of the bomb plot.

Six years later the relatives of Mr Dalton claimed the police had been negligent in allowing civilians to approach the flat, alleging the police were aware that it had been booby-trapped.

This led to a number of complaints being lodged with the Police Ombudsman, one of which was that under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights the police failed in their responsibilities to uphold Mr Dalton's right to life.

On 10 July, 2013, Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire published a 'Section 62' public statement that there was a failure by the police to uphold the right to life of Mr Dalton.

'30-page rebuttal'

Former Assistant Chief Constable Raymond White of the NIRPOA said: "In the view of the association, the lack of investigative rigour in the eight-year long (ombudsman) inquiry resulted in facts, which were not relevant to the process, becoming an integral part of the alleged evidential package considered by the ombudsman.

"The outcome of this was a failure on the part of the ombudsman to apply the evidential test to the relevant facts, ie those known to the police before the fatal incident or which reasonably should have been known to them.

"An allegation that Article 2 of the ECHR has been breached is a very grave and complex issue to be addressed.

"We have published a 30-page detailed rebuttal of the Police Ombudsman's findings and demand the Section 62 statement be rescinded."

The association wants all such Section 62 public statements halted until an independent legal mechanism for assessing evidence is put in place and also wants an independent appeals and complaints mechanism in relation to the ombudsman.

It said until these conditions were met "this association regrettably, can no longer encourage its members to engage with the Police Ombudsman in the investigation of historical incidents, where breaches of the European Convention on Human rights are alleged".

'Extraordinary'

In response, the ombudsman's office said: "The findings of our report stand and it will not be withdrawn

"The Police Ombudsman's Office is the lawful mechanism for investigating criminality and misconduct of police officers.

"It is extraordinary that the Retired Police Officers Association will not encourage their members to participate as witnesses in investigations into the most serious of crimes

"This reinforces the need for the office to be able to compel officers to assist its investigations and to produce all documentation in their possession."

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