Northern Ireland

Colin Lewis to take over Al Hutchinson ombudsman duties

Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson
Image caption Mr Lewis will take over the responsibilites of Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson

Colin Lewis has been appointed as the interim chief executive for the office of the police ombudsman for NI.

Ombudsman Al Hutchinson will cease to function in the role at the end of the month.

Mr Lewis will take over Mr Hutchinson's responsibilities at that time on a six-month basis.

He is currently a deputy secretary responsible for management services at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI).

He has agreed to cover an interim period pending the appointments of a new police ombudsman and chief executive.

Mr Hutchinson said: "I am pleased that someone with Colin's experience in both the private and government sectors has accepted the challenge of serving Northern Ireland in this important office.

"Colin's knowledge and senior level leadership, supported by a very able police ombudsman team, will add valuable continuity and independence during this challenging period of change."

Mr Hutchinson announced his intention to quit as police ombudsman following a BBC Spotlight programme which identified significant failings in the work of his office.

He will take his accrued leave during February and then return to his home in Canada at the end of March 2012.

As a result of legal advice, Mr Hutchinson has said that, for operational and legal reasons, he will not formally resign until the newly appointed police ombudsman is in a position to assume full legal responsibility for the office.

"The general responsibility for managing an effective organisation that secures the confidence of the public and the police will rest with the interim chief executive and the leadership team during the period leading to the appointment of the new police ombudsman" he said.

From 1 March 2012 he will remain available to exercise any legal authorities required beyond the delegated authorities, but will do so in an unpaid capacity.

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