New police ombudsman appointed
An inspector of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland will become the region's next police ombudsman, it has been revealed.
Dr Michael Maguire was handed the £128,000-a-year contract to consider complaints against the police by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).
Former ombudsman Al Hutchinson stepped down from the role in January after criticism of the performance of his office. Dr Maguire conducted an independent inspection of that office following complaints from its former chief executive that his independence had been limited.
His report was one of a number of factors behind the early departure of Mr Hutchinson.
About 30 people had applied for the vacant post, which has covered controversial Troubles killings, historic inquests and investigations as well as more recent police actions which caused death or injury. Dr Maguire, 52, is from the Belfast area. He is the chief inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, having joined the organisation in 2008.
In 2011, three independent reports were highly critical of the work being carried out by the ombudsman's office. The inspectorate's review, commissioned by former ombudsman Hutchinson, found the independence of his office had been compromised.
In a letter explaining his decision to quit his £90,000-a-year job, former ombudsman chief executive Sam Pollock claimed there had been political interference in the work of the office, and a lowering of operational independence between it and the police.
Rejecting the criticism, Mr Hutchinson asked Dr Maguire to investigate the claims. Following the inspectorate report's publication, Mr Hutchinson said he would quit his job earlier than planned.
The report described the investigative processes as flawed, finding that a number of ombudsman reports had been altered before publication to reduce criticism of the police, with no explanation.
Prior to taking up his post with CJI, Dr Maguire was a partner in the international consulting firm PA Consulting Group for 10 years. He has worked across a wide range of areas including criminal justice, health, education, equality, economic and social development. His inquiries on criminal justice have also covered the prison service and other agencies.