Northern Ireland

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson urged to temporarily stand down during 'domestic incident' investigation

Police ombudsman Marie Anderson
Police ombudsman Marie Anderson

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson has faced calls to temporarily step down after an English police force was asked to investigate a domestic incident linked to her.

UUP leader Doug Beattie urged the ombudsman to step aside until the findings of the investigation into the incident are published.

On Thursday, 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.”

It has also been confirmed 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 at her home.

Mr Beattie, who is also his party’s justice spokesman, 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.”

The Police Ombudsman’s office was contacted.

Asked on Thursday if Ms Anderson has offered her resignation to the Department of Justice (DoJ), a spokesman for Ms Anderson said: “We are unable to offer any comment in relation to these matters at present, but no inferences should be drawn from this.”

The DoJ was asked a similar question but did not respond.

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 latest controversy to impact on police structures in the north comes just weeks after former PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne stood down.

Former Operation Kenova boss Jon Boutcher took on the role of interim chief constable this week.