Northern Ireland

Police Ombudsman faces calls to step aside amid probe into incident at her home

Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Marie Anderson (Liam McBurney/PA)
Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Marie Anderson (Liam McBurney/PA)

Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson is facing calls to step aside during an investigation into an incident at her home.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson and UUP leader Doug Beattie made the calls after it emerged that West Midlands Police have been asked to examine the allegations at the property in Co Down last month.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said officers attended the address at around 6.30pm on Saturday September 23 following a report of a domestic incident.

A man was arrested as part of those inquiries and later released pending a report to prosecutors.

The PSNI said West Midlands Police would investigate to assess whether there were any other alleged offences related to the incident.

“Police received a report of a domestic incident and attended an address in the Holywood area on Saturday September 23 at approximately 6.30pm,” said the PSNI.

“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 September 24.

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

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

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: “At the request of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, we have agreed to lead an independent investigation following an alleged incident in Co Down in September 2023.

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

The Police Ombudsman’s office on Thursday 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.”

Mr Robinson said Ms Anderson should stand aside until the investigation has been concluded.

“Whatever the outcome of the investigation under way, officers have contacted me questioning how she can continue in post in the interim,” he said.

“A number of high-profile events have recently impacted on morale within the PSNI. At a time when they crave stability, they do not believe the current situation is tenable. They rightly engage with and are subject to the office of the ombudsman, but they too must have faith in that office.

“I respect the integrity of the West Midlands Police investigation and welcome their involvement. I trust there will be a swift investigation with full co-operation from all involved.

“Whilst this investigation continues there should be interim arrangements with Marie Anderson stepping aside until it has been concluded.”

Mr Beattie said: “In light of the investigation announced, I feel it would be appropriate that Ms Anderson step down from her role with immediate effect.

“This will allow for the office of the ombudsman to continue their existing work without distraction or challenge during the necessary process of the investigation.”