Northern Ireland news

Independent review into PSNI disclosure of legacy case information to Police Ombudsman

Five people were killed on February 5 1992 when the UFF opened fire on the Sean Graham bookmaker's shop on the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast. Picture by Pacemaker
Digital Staff

AN independent review of how the PSNI discloses information on legacy cases to the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is to be carried out.

The Department of Justice has requested that Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) handles the review and the CJI has indicated that will prioritise the work and hopes to produce its report in six months.

The announcement comes a week after it emerged the police had failed to disclose "significant information" to the police ombudsman.

Ombudsman Michael Maguire said "significant, sensitive information" around the UFF gun attack on Sean Graham bookmaker's on Ormeau Road in Belfast, which claimed five lives, had not been made available to his investigators.

Dr Maguire's office said the non-disclosed material, which it has now obtained, has opened new lines of inquiry in its investigation into the shootings, as well as activities of loyalist paramilitaries in the north west between 1988 and 1994, and its probe into the murder of teenager Damien Walsh at a coal depot in west Belfast in 1993.

The publication of three ombudsman reports covering more than 20 loyalist murders has now been delayed.

The stalled reports include Operation Achille, relating to the murders of five Catholic men at Sean Graham bookmaker's in February 1992.

The results of a second investigation, Operation Greenwich, which relates to 20 murders and attempted murders across several counties between 1988 and 1994, has also been put on hold.

This report includes details about the 1993 ‘trick or treat’ murders of eight people in the Rising Sun Bar at Greysteel, Co Derry.

Last week, PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin apologised on behalf of the police and said they never sought to withhold the information from the ombudsman investigators, putting the incident down to human error.

Responding to the request from the Department of Justice to carry out a review, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Brendan McGuigan said it would be prioritised and terms of reference immediately prepared.

CJI is an independent statutory inspectorate with responsibility for inspecting all aspects of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland apart from the judiciary. 

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