Belfast Telegraph

New leadership for HET announced

A new leadership is to be appointed for the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) following a sharply critical review of its work in Northern Ireland.

Current head Dave Cox is retiring by the end of the year and a PSNI chief superintendent and superintendent will be appointed on September 28 to review all policies, procedures and standards.

Inspectors have said the unit, established in 2005 to investigate more than 3,000 unresolved killings, treated those caused by members of the security forces less rigorously than deaths attributed to paramilitaries.

PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott said the new leadership would be asked to take forward the HET.

"It is a completely open book for that," he told the Policing Board in Belfast.

The senior officer said they would also fulfil all recommendations made in the recent report.

The HET was set up to re-examine deaths during the Troubles.

It was criticised in a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which said the HET was illegally investigating deaths involving army soldiers with less rigour than cases with no state involvement. It further claimed the unit was inconsistent; had serious shortcomings and risked losing the confidence of victims' families.

Following the publication of the report, the Policing Board said it had no confidence in the leadership of the HET.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said relatives' confidence in the organisation was "non existent".

"Most people outside this room will want to know that there is the same approach taken to all investigations into any deaths and that what this report did was show that was not happening," he said.

"The guarantee that people need is that something is happening immediately, that people will not (tolerate) someone taking over who is an ex-RUC member because there is no confidence in that."

Mr Baggott said he had not ruled out suspending the work of the HET.

He told the Board "all options are open".

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said: "We urge Policing Board members and Matt Baggott to now do the right thing by suspending the HET, making the space for the creation of a proper investigative process.

"The HET is in the way of progress towards truth and accountability."

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