Relatives of victims of the Glenanne Gang have insisted PSNI Chief George Hamilton has a duty to abide by a court ruling ordering him to complete an investigation into dozens of loyalist killings.
Hamilton said he would be appealing a judgment in July ordering the completion of an investigation into more than 100 killings linked to the Glenanne Gang.
The killings, which took place across five counties in the 1970s, were investigated by the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team, but the cold case team was disbanded before the final report was released.
In a public letter published in the Six Counties, Mr Hamilton has claimed disagreement on dealing with the past, legal challenges over the use of outside forces and the potential cost left him in “an impossible position”.
Victims’ families said they were disappointed and said Hamilton has “done nothing” to comply with Justice Treacy’s ruling.
Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), whose father Trevor was murdered in December 1975, said: “There have been no meetings, no discussions, no consultations.
“That is why the court reconvened in November and, once again, ordered him to comply with its July ruling. In a highly unusual move, the court even issued an ‘Order of Mandamus’ informing the chief constable he should take action immediately.
“He has yet, however, to even request a meeting.
“The chief constable predicts it will cost #60m to fund the report which the court has ordered. This is the first time we have seen any such sum mentioned and we wonder how he comes up with this figure.”
The PFC warned that any appeal by Hamilton could drag the legal process out for another year, at a time when many victims are elderly. Eight close family members have died since the case first came to court in November 2014.
The families want the report into collusion completed in a timely fashion by an independent, fully resourced team.
They also want to see an end to the legal wrangling which delays the search for truth and denies answers to relatives, many of whom have died while the matter has worked slowly through the courts.
In an open letter, the victims have called on the PSNI to “find an independent body acceptable to us to finish the work on collusion and the ‘Glenanne Gang’ - or continue fighting an ultimately self-defeating rearguard action against us, the bereaved families, and the truth”.
“We have lost our fathers and mothers, our wives, our husbands, our sons, our daughters, our brothers, our sisters and - in two cases - children as yet unborn to our close relatives.
“How much better would it be - for the families and for all of us living here - if instead of fighting every inch of the way, you released that information for us all to see and learn from.”