The PSNI has made a grovelling apology to the Mayor of Derry for mistakenly searching his home as part of an operation targeting the dissident group Republican Action Against Drugs.
The raid on Councillor Kevin Campbell's home went ahead after a six-hour stand-off while “intelligence” was checked after local officers contacted their superiors in Belfast, once they realised they were at the mayor's home in the Creggan area of the city on July 12.
On Monday night, ACC Dave Jones and District Commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin confirmed it was a mistake to search the mayor's home, which was wrongly identified during the police operation.
They also apologised for the length of time — six weeks — it has taken for them to say sorry and said that every effort is being made to repair the damage done to the relationship between the police and people of Derry.
However, neither officer would explain how Mr Campbell's home came to be searched in the first place.
ACC Jones said: “We will now try to rebuild our relationship with the people of Derry and start to address the damage done.
“We got it wrong and have made a full and frank apology to the mayor and to his wife Deirdre.
“We made a mistake and we are deeply sorry for the distress caused to Councillor Campbell and his family which we recognise was traumatic and also embarrassing in his role as First Citizen.
“We fully accept the mayor was not involved in the matters we were investigating that evening.
“On behalf of the Chief Constable, I unequivocally apologise for what took place at the mayor's home on July 12.
“We are grateful for the grace and dignity with which the mayor and his wife received our apology.”
The search went ahead after an initial degree of confusion among local officers on the ground who suggested to Mr Campbell that the order to search the address may have been a mistake.
After over five hours of waiting for clarification, the search lasting an hour-and-a-half went ahead and two laptops, three mobile phones and a handheld video camera were removed from the mayor's family home in the Creggan area of the city.
Cllr Campbell said: “This decision by the PSNI to issue an unreserved and unconditional apology to myself and my wife and family for the indignity and trauma inflicted on us by this unwarranted raid on our home vindicates what I said at the time — the PSNI got it wrong and should publicly admit their mistake.”