Police Ombudsman spikes 400 investigations
Police Ombudsman spikes 400 investigations


The Police Ombudsman has halted almost 400 conflict-related investigations as a result of the move by the Tory government in London to conceal British war crimes in the north of Ireland.

The so-called ‘Bill of Shame’, the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act, passed into law in September. It ends all civil cases, inquests and other investigations that have not reached their findings stage by next May, including all conflict-related investigations undertaken by the Police Ombudsman.

In recent years the Police Ombudsman has produced several reports that concluded there was “collusive behaviour” between members of the British Crown Forces and loyalist paramilitary groups in the murder of innocent Catholics.

But it expects to complete just 60-70 cases out of 450 before next May, and indicated that most of the investigations were never even begun.

In recent days around 200 letters have been sent to families by Ombudsman Marie Anderson (pictured) telling them that investigations into the murder of loved ones will not be completed. It is understood more letters are expected to be sent out in the coming weeks.

Some of those already contacted are linked to high-profile war crimes and acts of collusion, including sectarian serial killing carried out by gangs such as the Shankill Butchers.

The sister of 16-year-old Gerard Gibson, who was shot dead by the British Army in Lenadoon, west Belfast in July 1972, has spoken of her anger that his case will not be investigated.

“We have been let down so many times by the state,” said Margaret Gibson.

“Our family were let down by the RUC by not investigating Gerard’s killing properly in 1972.

“The Historical Enquiries Team (HET), who looked at Gerard’s case, failed us and they were eventually shut down.

“Now the Police Ombudsman have failed us as well despite the fact that we have had a complaint lodged with them for over 10 years.”

Paul Butler from campaign group Relatives for Justice (RFJ) said some relatives who made complaints have passed away.

“In some cases, relatives have since died while others are very elderly and suffer from ill health,” he said.

“It’s totally unacceptable that victims have had to wait for over a decade to then to be told that their complaint will no longer be investigated.”

It condemned the cold nature of the letters sent to the bereaved, some of whom have campaigned for truth and justice for some 50 years.

In a statement, the group said that all victims were told the same thing - that due to the Legacy Act, the Police Ombudsman was not in a “position to investigate” their complaints.

RFJ said: “The letters are impersonal, not as much as mentioning the name of the person killed during the conflict, and acknowledge that families may view this as an ‘unwelcome development’’”.

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane also criticised the “generic” letters which “fail to take into account the sensitivities or grief felt by families”.

He called on the Dublin government to show support for victims.

“The British government’s Legacy Act is a cynical and callous attempt to block victims and families from ever getting justice through the courts and to hide the role of British state forces and their agencies in the conflict.

“It is already pulling the shutters down on justice with families being informed that their loved one’s case will not be investigated as a direct result of this shameful Act.

“The Irish government can remove the burden of legal action from individual families by taking an interstate case against the British government themselves. This would show them standing up for all those impacted by this cruel legislation and, importantly, would fast track the process.”

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