Northern Ireland

Prisoner threatens legal challenge over appointment of former PSNI officer to Police Ombudsman’s role

Lawyers take first step towards seeking a judicial review into the watchdog’s decision to appoint Hugh Hume

Hugh Hume, the soon to be appointed chief executive of the PONI office
Hugh Hume (Corporate Photographers Dublin)

A prisoner is threatening to mount a High Court challenge over a former PSNI officer becoming new Chief Executive of the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

Lawyers representing John Elliott have sent pre-action correspondence in the first step towards seeking a judicial review into the watchdog’s decision to appoint Hugh Hume.

Mr Hume served in the RUC and as a detective superintendent in the PSNI’s Crime Operations Department before moving into policing oversight.

He worked as a commissioner with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission prior to his new appointment earlier this year.

Elliott, from east Belfast, is currently in jail serving a sentence for aggravated burglary.

He has already lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman over claims that PSNI officers treated him unfairly compared to the injured party in the case.

His solicitors, KRW Law, contend that Mr Hume will have control over any investigation into those grievances.

A letter sent to the Ombudsman’s Office alleges there is a conflict in appointing an ex-PSNI officer as its Chief Executive.

Michael Clements, from KRW Law’s Public Administrative Litigation Department, confirmed the initial moves towards a potential legal challenge.

He said: “We argue that the appointment is unreasonable, irrational and undermines the statutory objective of the Police Ombudsman’s Office which is to provide independent, transparent and effective investigation of police misconduct and criminality.

“Our client has an apprehension of bias on how his complaint will be handled.”