PSNI police chief Hugh Orde was forced to publicly apologise this week after it emerged that his force had lied about millions of pounds it paid to a construction firm connected to the UVF.
Orde has confirmed that the force had provided false figures when asked to detail how much money had been paid out for work by two building firms, including one owned by mid-Ulster UVF leader Richard Jameson.
The firm received the lucrative contracts despite twice failing police vetting procedures.
In September 2007 police said they had paid just #320,000 to the two firms for work carried out on various police stations over a six-year period.
However, Orde has now admitted that, actually, five million has been paid out. It is understood Jameson’s firm received the large majority of this money.
Orde said there would be a “full review” of the policy of contracting firms run by unionist paramilitaries.
Paul McIlwaine of Relatives for Justice, who attended the Policing Board meeting and spoke with Orde, expressed “astonishment” at the situation.
“Hugh Orde promised the Policing Board a full inquiry into how this firm was paid #5m while one of its owners was suspected of being a leading member of a paramilitary organisation,” he said.
“He promised a full review of how this company was awarded police contracts despite twice failing police vetting.”
Meanwhile, the British government is being asked to explain why it will not release more funding for a police inquiry investigating PSNI Special Branch agent Mark Haddock’s links to 19 murders.
In January 2007, the then police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan accused the PSNI of colluding with the UVF in north Belfast.
Despite public furore it was not until June this year that it was announced that the PSNI’s Historic Enquiries Team (HET) was being given money to investigate the force’s collusion Haddock in 19 murders and 10 attempted murders.
The HET investigation, codenamed Operation Ballast, was touted as one of the most important inquiries in the history of the conflict.
However, Hugh Orde has now said there are no funds for the inquiry.
Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey also warned that nationalists would oppose any attempt to shut down the HET investigation.
“Any suggestion that these serious issues will not be dealt with because of a deliberate decision to withhold funding would be a disgrace.
“The British government gave a commitment to fund Operation Ballast and must not be allowed to renege on it.”
PSNI PROTECTING LOYALIST
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has warned that elements within the PSNI are protecting Stoneyford loyalist Mark Harbinson.
The party’s claims come after it was stated by the Crown Prosecution Service (PPS) that they did not proceed with charges against Mark Harbinson due to the failure of the PSNI to submit their investigation file within the six month time limit.
Sinn Féin’s Lagan Valley MLA Paul Butler was the subject of intimidation by Mr Harbison in an incident recorded on film by a television camera crew.
“It is incredible to believe that the PSNI failed to send this file to the PPS on time and the conclusion that many will come to,is that there are elements within the PSNI who are protecting this person and that the delay in sending this file to the PPS was deliberate.
“During the ten year campaign of intimidation by Stoneyford loyalists of Catholics who live in the village the PSNI have not arrested or charged a single loyalist nor have the PPS prosecuted a single loyalist.
“The PPS letter is further confirmation, if any was needed, that those behind the sectarian campaign of intimidation are being protected by the police and prosecuting authorities.”