Decision 'imminent' on police officer accused of leaking information to loyalists
A DECISION is expected within weeks on whether a police officer alleged to have leaked information to loyalists during a criminal investigation will be prosecuted for misconduct in public office.
In 2015 The Irish News revealed that Chief Constable George Hamilton had asked the Police Ombudsman to investigate the actions of the officer accused of revealing information via social networking which could influence the outcome of criminal proceedings.
The officer, who was at the time based in east Belfast, was suspended from her post on July 22 2015 while the investigation took place. Her home was searched and equipment was seized.
It is understood she has since taken early retirement. Although this would prevent her being subject to any disciplinary recommendations pending the outcome of the ombudsman investigation, retirement has no impact on potential criminal proceedings.
Among the people to whom the officer is alleged to have leaked classified information is loyalist Jamie Bryson.
It is alleged that using fake profiles on social media the former officer made contact with people including the Co Down loyalist who was under investigation at the time for his role in the flag protests.
A spokesman for the ombudsman said: "The Police Ombudsman's Office can confirm that the PSNI has asked us to investigate matters related to the use of social media by one of its officers.
"We have completed an investigation into allegations that a police officer made inappropriate use of social media.
"As is normal practice when we receive allegations of a potentially criminal nature, we have submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service for their consideration. We are now awaiting the PPS direction in this matter."
A Public Prosecution Service spokesperson said: "Consideration of a file relating to a suspect reported by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland concerning an allegation of misconduct in public office is at an advanced stage. It is expected a decision will issue in coming weeks."