The police (HET) in the North has given favourable treatment to British soldiers linked to killings during the conflict, a University of Ulster report has confirmed.
The HET -- drawn largely from English police forces -- is reviewing more than 150 killings by British soldiers between 1970 and 1973.
The report said the HET does not investigate the cases properly. Dr Patricia Lundy, a senior lecturer with the University of Ulster, questioned the HET’s independence.
She said HET investigators acted differently when interviewing former soldiers. “The research indicates that the interviews with soldiers are not impartial, they are not effective and they are not transparent,” she said.
In a statement, the PSNI said it was satisfied with the HET’s performance, but promised that another British police team would conduct a “review”.
NEW OMBUDSMAN APPOINTED
The issue of police bias in the North resurfaced as a new police Ombudsman was appointed this week.
Michael Maguire, a former consultant and the current chief inspector of ‘Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland’, will take the post vacated by the disgraced Al Hutchinson. Hutchinson, a former Canadian Mountie, was pressured to resign following accusations that he had worked to cover up police criminality.
A report by Dr Maguire published in September questioned Hutchinson’s independence and recommended that the Ombudsman’s office cease dealing with historical cases until the situation was resolved.
Dr Maguire noted that senior Ombudsman office staff had changed reports into police misconduct prior to publication and without explanation. Those staff will now become employees of the man who was critical of their conduct.
His appointment was welcomed by Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly, who said his party hopes Dr Maguire can “return the credibility and reputation to this important office”.
SOLP assembly member Conall McDevitt said Dr Maguire has “considerable challenges ahead of him” including “establishing credibility”.
In a separate development this week, the PSNI said it had suspended four of its members after the discovery of racist and sectarian text messages on their phones. None of the four have been named, nor the areas in which they operate.
The force said the inquiry would be “robust”. The four were suspended yesterday [Thursday].