Northern Ireland

Appointment of lawyer Marie Anderson as new police ombudsman to be challenged

Newly appointed police ombudsman Marie Anderson. Picture by Nipso/PA Wire
Newly appointed police ombudsman Marie Anderson. Picture by Nipso/PA Wire

The appointment of lawyer Marie Anderson as the new Police Ombudsman is to be challenged by the daughter of a man injured in a loyalist attack during the Troubles.

Ms Anderson, who is currently the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards and Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman, was named yesterday as the new head of the police watchdog, subject to the completion of formalities.

The sensitive appointment, which comes with a salary of £135,000, was announced by Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

Mrs Bradley said her priority was the restoration of the Stormont executive but in the meantime she had a responsibility to “ensure good governance and stable public services in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland”.

Had devolution been in place, the appointment would have been made by The Executive Office.

Last year the secretary of state brought forward legislation that enables her to make key public appointments in the absence of devolved government.

In March, in the wake of comments by Mrs Bradley about security force killings during the Troubles, former ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan said her involvement in appointing a replacement for Michael Maguire would undermine trust in the police watchdog.

Niall Murphy of KRW Law last night said it would be launching a challenge to the appointment on behalf of a client whose father was injured in the 1992 attack on Sean Graham bookmaker's on Belfast Ormeau Road.

He said there was concern about comments by the Secretary of State and Prime Minister that "tend to suggest that the security forces should not be investigated for their criminal conduct during the Troubles, or that they could not have committed a crime as they were merely following orders".

"As a result the Secretary of State should not have been involved in the decision-making process for the appointment of a new Police Ombudsman."