Northern Ireland

West Midland Police to look into 'domestic incident' at police ombudsman’s home

Police ombudsman Marie Anderson
Police ombudsman Marie Anderson

The PSNI has asked West Midlands Police to lead an investigation into a domestic incident linked to Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson.

In a statement on Thursday evening, the PSNI said that officers “received a report of a domestic incident” and attended an address in Co Down on Saturday, September 23, at around 6.30pm.

“Police were unable to gain access to the address and following contact, a man aged 63 was arrested for common assault and interviewed at Musgrave station on Sunday 24 September,” a spokeswoman said. 

“He was released and a file will be forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service in due course.”

The spokeswoman added that an external police force has now been called in by the PSNI.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland have asked West Midlands Police to lead an investigation and assess whether there are any further criminal offences following an alleged incident in Co Down.

“As this investigation is now live we will not be providing any further comment.”

Sources suggest that Ms Anderson, who took up the ombudsman’s role in 2019, held discussions with a senior PSNI officer after the incident.

The Irish News put a series of questions to the Police Ombudsman’s office on Thursday, including if Ms Anderson has offered her resignation to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

In response a spokesman said: “As the PSNI has asked West Midlands Police to lead an investigation into any matters arising from an ‘alleged incident’ in Co Down in September 2023, and given that the investigation is now live, it would be inappropriate for the Police Ombudsman’s Office to comment.”

The DoJ was contacted but did not respond.

Liam Kelly, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland
Liam Kelly, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland

Police Federation chair Liam Kelly said a full investigation is needed.

“The Police Federation for Northern Ireland believes there has to be a full and robust investigation into this matter,” he said.

“No stone should be left unturned to establish the facts and get to the truth.

“We expect our officers to be fully supported both by PSNI and the public to carry out their professional duties unfettered, without fear or favour."

The development is the latest controversy to hit policing structures in the north.

Last month former chief constable Simon Byrne resigned after a series of damaging controversies.

Pressure had been mounting on Mr Byrne after the unintentional release of details relating to 10,000 PSNI staff members in response to a Freedom of Information request in August.

It later emerged that a PSNI radio, laptop and details of 200 serving officers were also taken after a car belonging to a superintendent was broken into in Newtownabbey.

A short time later a fresh investigation was launched after police confirmed the names of 42 PSNI officers and staff were contained in missing pages of a notebook, which fell from a moving vehicle.

It is understood the notebook and laptop fell from the roof of a car as it made its way along the busy M2 foreshore.

Calls for his resignation from unionists later increased over his response to when two PSNI officers challenged relatives of people killed by loyalists in the 1992 Sean Graham Bookmaker's massacre during a commemoration two years ago.

A court later ruled that two junior officers were unlawfully disciplined.

Former Operation Kenova head Jon Boutcher has since been appointed to the role of interim chief constable.