Northern Ireland news

PSNI to hand over Walker Report on RUC Special Branch

Former RUC Chief Constable Jack Hermon commissioned the Walker Report in 1980
Connla Young

THE PSNI has agreed to release a report into the operation of RUC Special Branch which was completed nearly 40 years ago.

The Walker Report was commissioned by former RUC chief constable Jack Hermon in 1980 and focused on the handling of agents, informers and intelligence.

The report, which was completed in 1981, was overseen by Sir Patrick Walker, a senior MI5 officer who became its director general between 1988 and 1992.

The PSNI has now agreed to release the document after the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) requested it under the Freedom of Information Act.

A police spokeswoman said: "The Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris has agreed that a redacted version of the Walker Report will be provided to the CAJ within the next seven days".

While the existence of the report was revealed in 2001, its full contents have never been released.

The PSNI agreed to make its contents public yesterday ahead of a sitting of the First Tier (Information Rights) Tribunal in Belfast yesterday.

The initial CAJ request was rejected by the PSNI which applied an exemption claiming the contents related to MI5.

This was later upheld by the Information Commissioner's Office.

CAJ deputy director Daniel Holder said the report will help understand how Special Branch operated.

“The Walker Report will assist in understanding just how RUC Special Branch was tasked to operate in the 1980s at a time there were serious concerns regarding the use of informants outside the law,” he said.

“It is an historic policy document that should not have been withheld for so long.”

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