Irish Republican News · October 20, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Hutchinson cover-up revelations continue

The highly controversial Police Ombudsman in the North, Al Hutchinson, refused a request by former police chief Hugh Orde to investigate allegations that IRA informer Freddie Scappaticci was ordered by his handlers to kill other IRA Volunteers.

Another failure surrounded efforts to hide the fact that self-confessed republican informer Denis Donaldson was writing a tell-all journal about his life -- before he was shot dead in mysterious circumstances at a remote cottage in Donegal. Office investigators also failed to interview a PSNI special branch handler Mr Donaldson’s family believe may have information about how he died.

Other new revelations point to a cover-up over an IRA bomb that was allowed to explode by the police in the Creggan area of Derry, killing three innocent civilians. Efforts were also made in a number of cases to alter reports to protect police informers.

Lawyer Kevin Winters said the backlog of legal cases in relation to failures at the office of the Police Ombudsman is so great it could take up to five years to clear.

“Our clients feel they have been left with no choice but to pursue their complaints through the courts due to the now well documented failure of the ombudsman’s office to investigate police collusion,” Mr Winter’s said.

The High Court cases include one involving former Sinn Fein director of publicity Danny Morrison, acquitted along with seven others two years ago in relation to the alleged kidnapping of informer Sandy Lynch in 1990.

In an unusual move the Court of Appeal refused to make public the reasons why the convictions were being quashed but it was believed this was because of the involvement of Scappaticci in the alleged kidnap plot.

A civil case, believed to be the first of its kind, against the ombudsman by a number of those convicted of the kidnap plot is to be heard by the High Court later this month.

It is among three High Court challenges already lodged by victims and their families who have been dissatisfied with the handling of historic investigations by the ombudsman.

Another case includes the families of six men murdered by loyalists in Loughinisland in 1994.

Those relatives were among around 100 people who held a protest at the Belfast city centre office’s yesterday calling for him to resign immediately.

Other high-profile cases are also being lodged by Kevin Winters solicitors.

They includes a complaint by the relatives of the 15 people killed in the 1971 McGurk’s Bar bombing.

However, despite coming under immense political and legal pressure Mr Hutchinson is still refusing to step down as ombudsman, promising only to do so next year.

Gerry Kelly, the Sinn Fein policing spokesman, said that any fragment of trust that the wider public may have had in Mr Hutchinson is now gone.

“While Al Hutchinson remains in charge this office is being further damaged and is losing all credibility as it fails in its remit of holding the police to account.

“There is now evidence that a ‘force within a force’ mentality has now permeated Al Hutchinson’s office,” he said.

Relatives for Justice said the credibility of the office is further damaged each day Mr Hutchinson stays on.

“As justice minister David Ford needs to now make public his position regarding these latest revelations,” Relatives for Justice Mark Thompson said.

“Relatives for Justice feel David Ford’s relative silence on this matter of huge public importance, not least for families who have engaged with the office.”

Former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has criticised the running of the ombudsman’s office, saying “a huge amount” needs to be done to rescue its integrity. She said its clear problems within the office need to be “solved quickly”.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News