Northern Ireland

Arlene Arkinson inquest: Former RUC chief Sir Hugh Annesley asked for statement

Arlene Arkinson disappeared in 1994 after a school disco in County Donegal
Image caption Arlene Arkinson disappeared in 1994 after a school disco in County Donegal

Former RUC Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesley has no recollection of meeting a senior officer over the disappearance of Arlene Arkinson, a court has heard.

An inquest is being held into the death of the Castlederg schoolgirl.

The 15-year-old disappeared after a night out in County Donegal in August 1994. Her body has never been found.

Last month the officer in charge of the investigation, Eric Anderson, told the inquest he had discussed the case with Sir Hugh.

Mr Anderson told the inquest that the decision to search the home of Arlene's sister Kathleen in 1996 was taken by the then chief constable following their meeting.

However, at a review hearing on Friday, a lawyer for the PSNI said: "Sir Hugh has said that he did not keep journals. He has checked notebooks and there is nothing in the notebooks regarding a meeting with Mr Anderson.

"He has no recollection of meeting Mr Anderson regarding Arlene Arkinson."

Nothing was found during the search of Kathleen Arkinson's house, but false rumours about her involvement persisted for years.

Call for statement

A barrister representing the Arkinson family has called for Sir Hugh make a statement to the inquest.

Arlene was last seen with child killer Robert Howard.

He was acquitted of her murder in 2005, but the jury was not told about his conviction for killing another teenager in England.

Friday's hearing at Laganside Court also heard there is no paper trail to support further claims from Mr Anderson that Howard was placed under 24-hour surveillance following his release from police custody weeks after the teenager vanished.

The inquest is expected to resume hearing oral evidence on Monday.

A number of police witnesses are expected to attend but counsel for the coroner said one officer was reluctant to co-operate.

"He is not prepared to attend unless he is summonsed," she said.

The court also heard that progress had been made regarding disclosure of outstanding police documents.

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