Brown family condemn Orde response to report
Brown family condemn Orde response to report

Thw family of a Gaelic sports official murdered by unionist paramilitaries has accused PSNI police chief Hugh Orde of ignoring a scathing report on the investigation by the Police Ombudsman.

Responding for the first time to the report, Mr Orde yesterday defended his decision to allow his officers to reinvestigate Sean Brown's killing.

The Ombudsman's office h upheld two complaints from the Brown family about the original police investigation after the abduction and murder of the 61-year-old in May 1997.

In her report released on January 19, Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan found that the original investigation had been inadequate and that key police files had gone missing after she had begun her inquiries.

She also recommended a ``ull, independent review of the murder which should be linked to probes of two other deaths in which the same or a similar weapon had been used.

Mr Orde said an independent external investigation was unnecessary because Mrs O'Loan had found ``no evidence at all of collusion''.

Mr Brown's son Damian accused Mr Orde of `spin doctoring' and said he had taken this decision without any consultation with the Brown family.

``We are angry and deeply concerned that he has failed o acknowledge the full implications of the Police Ombudsman's report.

Orde ruled out an outside investigation on the basis that the Ombudsman found `no evidence at all of collusion in that case.'

Mr Brown said Orde's statement that there was no evidence of collusion was an ``inaccurate and misleading'' statement.

``The Police Ombudsman has made clear to our family that she had found no evidence of any direct involvement of members of the security forces in the actual murder. We never claimed that there was.

``Her report however detailed a number of concerns which taken both individually and in their totality make it absolutely impossible for us to have any confidence in an investigation which includes members of the PSNI.

``The Ombudsman described the disappearance of vital documents as `sinister'. These documents were clearly misappropriated by one or more police officers.

``The Ombudsman made clear that the withholding of Special Branch intelligence had seriously hampered the investigation. Special Branch remains an integral part of the PSNI.

``The failure to interview witnesses, collect DNA and follow up ballistic links are all failures attributable to police officers who serve today in the PSNI. Only one of the senior officers referred to in the report has resigned. Others have been promoted.

``It is distressing to us that Hugh Orde has chosen to take the route of spin doctoring and damage limitation.''

Mr Brown recalled the words of London police chief John Stevens, who stated that collusion ranges from the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder.

``In this context it is wrong for the Chief Constable to claim that collusion can be ruled out. A PSNI investigation will receive little or no co-operation in south Derry and will cetainly not receive any co-operation from our family. We have instructed our solictor to initiate legal proceedings to stop this `re-investigation' by the same people who failed us in the first place.''

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