Irish Republican News · January 9, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
PSNI in the dock on Omagh

The Policing Board is to investigate the extent of the attempted frame-up of Sean Hoey by senior members of the PSNI police over the 1998 Omagh bomb.

The board is to write to the head of the Crown judiciary in the North of Ireland after a trial judge ruled that senior PSNI officers may have been behind the falsification of evidence given during the Omagh bombing trial. After being held for four years, Hoey was cleared of all charges.

On Thursday the board announced plans to conduct an independent review of the Omagh bomb investigation following Justice Weir’s stinging criticism of the PSNI. After being held for four years, Hoey was cleared of all charges in a judgement which was inevitable after the PSNI case imploded during the trial.

The judge identified Chief Inspector Philip Marshall and Constable Fiona Cooper as being guilty of “deliberate and calculated deception” to the court when they were found to have falsified witness statements.

Under cross-examination during the trial Marshall revealed that he had been ordered by “senior officers” in the Omagh investigation to “beef up” witness statements.

That admission was highlighted by Justice Weir in his verdict when he questioned whether “others concerned in the investigation and preparation of this case for trial beyond these two witnesses may also have played a part” in falsifying statements.

During the meeting, PSNI Chief also defended his decision to allow the two PSNI members to remain on duty even after their deception was revealed.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said it was important that the Policing Board exposed the full extent of the fraud.

“We are writing to the Lord Chief Justice to ask him to explain [Weir’s] comments that other police officers may have been involved,” he said.

“We will wait on his response before deciding what further action, if any, should then be taken.

“The public have to have confidence that the Policing Board will not accept any wrongdoing within the PSNI.

“It is the duty of the Policing Board and the chief constable to root out any officer involved in attempting to pervert the course of justice.

“There should be no place for such people within the PSNI.

“This issue goes right to the heart of the need for public confidence within the PSNI.”

Maskey described Orde’s briefing to the Policing Board on Thursday as “deeply unsatisfactory.”

“He gave us a staunch defence of their (the police’s) inquiries thus far and in my opinion that was an attempt to defend the indefensible,” he said.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News