Belfast Telegraph

Matt Baggott: 'Coroner's court is incapable of dealing with legacy Troubles inquests'

PSNI Chief Constable calls for a more 'radical solution' to lengthy delays

By David Young, Press Association

Northern Ireland's outgoing chief constable has insisted the coroner's court system is incapable of dealing with the volume of legacy cases it is facing.

Matt Baggott said it was time for a more "radical solution" to problems of lengthy delays caused by the need to security vet and disclose state files related to Troubles killings.

Mr Baggott was responding to a call by Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey to the Government to provide more resources to help unblock the logjams.

The retiring officer insisted resourcing was not the primary issue, claiming the system itself needed to be overhauled.

"The coroner's system is not capable of dealing with the sheer volume of inquests being put through it," he said.

"Irrespective of how much resources are put into this, the system is clogged and there needs to be a far more radical solution to this."

Mr Leckey has described the seven years police have taken to disclose confidential documents about nine deaths linked to the security forces' alleged shoot-to-kill policy in the 1980s, the so-called Stalker/Sampson inquests, as "embarrassing".

But Mr Baggott noted that officers had so far had to check 160,000 documents.

"Ultimately we have to make a decision where we put our money in protecting people today as well as dealing with the past," he said.

"The system cannot cope.

"The sheer volume in the Stalker/Sampson case is already 160,000 documents that have to be gone through and every time we go back there's another 150 requests, so there has to be a different way, this is not just about resources.

"This is about a system unable to cope with the enormity of what it's been asked to do."

 

Further reading:

Why we need to tackle delay in Troubles death inquests

Placating victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles key to progress 

Delays in Troubles inquests could see dozens of damages lawsuits

'End Troubles prosecutions' says former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain

Delays over inquest into PSNI killing farcical, says coroner 

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