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Decision not to charge Gerry Adams over information about paedophile brother Liam was not politically motivated, says Ombudsman

By Deborah McAleese

Published 07/07/2015

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams

A decision by the PSNI not to charge Gerry Adams for withholding information about his paedophile brother was not politically motivated, the Police Ombudsman has concluded.

Investigations by the Ombudsman’s Office have found that the PSNI probe into the Sinn Fein President, who did not tell police for nine years that his brother Liam Adams had confessed to sexually abusing his daughter Aine Dahlstrom, was conducted properly.

"I found no evidence of misconduct concerning any of the officers involved. Indeed, the officers were cognisant of how important it is for relatives to come forward with information which may assist in the prosecution of such allegations of historic sexual abuse," Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire said today.

Liam Adams was convicted in 2013 of raping and abusing his daughter in the 1970s.

The Polcie Ombudsman was asked to investigate a complaint that the police had failed to fully probe Mr Adams for withholding information about the sexual abuse and that a recommendation not to prosecute him was allegedly politically motivated.

In his report released today the Police Ombudsman said that the Sinn Fein leader provided a statement to police detailing that he had been made aware by his niece and her mother that his brother had been sexually abusing his daughter.

The investigators confirmed that Mr Adams later provided a further statement to police which said that during a meeting with his brother a number of years previously, Liam Adams had admitted that he sexually assaulted his daughter.

"It is clear that Mr Adams did not report either conversation immediately to the police. It is also clear that at one stage police considered whether or not this delay could be regarded as ‘withholding information’, Dr Maguire said.

According to the report a Detective Inspector assessed the potential for criminality against the relevant law and advised that there was insufficient evidence to support any prosecution. This assessment was supported by a Detective Chief Inspector.

The Detective Chief Inspector sought prosecutorial advices from a senior member of staff in the Public Prosecution Service on 24 October 2011. He was advised that given the precise nature of the information Mr Adams had been given, the act of not immediately passing it on to police did not meet the legal definition of ‘withholding information’. "It was an independent decision of the PPS which directed no prosecution of Mr Adams," said Dr Maguire.

Dr Maguire insisted he found no evidence that the recommendation by police not to prosecute Gerry Adams was politically motivated.

"This investigation by my Office considered the legal definition of ‘withholding information,’ which is complex.

"The documentation we have examined shows that the police recommendation not to prosecute Mr Adams followed from an appropriate interpretation of the law as well as some concern over the precedent which such a prosecution could set. I have found no evidence to indicate that their thinking was influenced by who Mr Adams was," Dr Maguire concluded.

Last month the Attorney General found that the Public Prosecution Service’s original decision not to prosecute the Sinn Fein leader over claims he knew about the abuse since 1987 was correct based on the evidence available.

But John Larkin QC said the PPS could have done more to get Gerry Adams questioned under caution by police about his knowledge of the abuse and incest.

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