AN association of ex-RUC and PSNI officers has written to the Justice Minister complaining about the Police Ombudsman’s report into a deadly IRA booby trap bombing in Kildrum Gardens on August 31, 1988, and advising it will be urging non-cooperation with historical investigations in certain circumstances.
Three people were killed in the explosion which was designed to draw security forces to a flat in the area.
One was 55-year-old Sean Dalton, a widower and father of six and the others were Sheila Lewis and Thomas Curran. Mr Dalton’s wife had died just three weeks before the explosion.
The Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers’ Association (NIRPOA) has gone sofar as to recommend non-cooperation with Dr Michael Maguire’s historical investigations if breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights are involved.
The lobby lays down a number of conditions including the protection of former officers under Article 13 of the same convention - the right of effective remedy - for violations of rights. It also calls for a complaints and appeals process independent of the Ombudsman.
Former Assistant Chief Constable, Raymond White, refers to a claim by the Dalton family that the RUC had been negligent and had failed to provide their loved one with his rightful protection under the European Convention, Article 2 (right to life).
On July 10, 2013, the Police Ombudsman published a Section 62 Public Statement that there was a failure by the police to uphold the right to life of Mr Dalton.
Mr White, an Executive member of the NIRPOA responded: “The determination that the police failed in their responsibilities to uphold Mr Dalton’s right to life was said to have been reached on the balance of probabilities, which are evidence based and drawn from all sources of information available.
“It is this claim of being evidence based amongst others, which the NIRPOA seeks to show in a detailed analysis of the events leading up to the fatal explosion, that is flawed and as a consequence, the Ombudsman has in the opinion of the association misdirected himself both as to fact and to the law.
“In the view of the association the lack of investigative rigour in the eight-year long inquiry resulted in facts, which were not relevant to the process, becoming an integral part of the alleged evidential package considered by the Ombudsman.
“The outcome of this was a failure on the part of the Ombudsman to apply the evidential test to the relevant facts i.e. those known to the police before the fatal incident or which reasonably should have been known to them.
“An allegation that Article 2 of the ECHR has been breached is a very grave and complex issue to be addressed. We have published a 30 page detailed rebuttal of the Police Ombudsman’s findings and demand the Section 62 Statement be rescinded.
“Our response also identifies major legal and procedural failings in the operation of the Police Ombudsman, with regard to the conduct of investigations alleging breaches of Article 2 of the ECHR. We ask to have all such Section 62 Statements halted until the introduction of an appropriate and independent legal mechanism for assessing evidence.
“The response again highlights the need for an independent appeals and complaints mechanism in relation to the Police Ombudsman, as required by Article 13 of ECHR, something which this association has been requesting for over five years.
“Until the above three conditions have been met, this association regrettably, can no longer encourage its members to engage with the Police Ombudsman in the investigation of historical incidents, where breaches of the European Convention on Human rights are alleged.”