Belfast Telegraph

New pressure over HET leadership

Northern Ireland's chief constable is under new pressure to replace Dave Cox as the head of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Matt Baggott is likely to face calls to take decisive action when a Policing Board working group meets on Thursday to deal with the fallout from the damning review that found investigators adopted a differential approach to state killings during the Troubles.

The behind-closed-doors meeting is being held at the Policing Board headquarters in Belfast and it is the first time members will have met to discuss recommendations from the critical report.

SDLP policing spokesman Conall McDevitt said a change of leadership was essential to regain public confidence in the cold case unit.

"The Policing Board could not have been clearer. The HMIC (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary) report could not have been more damning. Change is needed now to protect the integrity and reputation of the HET and prove to victims and their families that their interests are foremost.

"Instead of clear and decisive leadership from the chief constable, we have what many will see as prevarication. This is, in my view, simply not acceptable," said Mr McDevitt.

The South Belfast MLA said retaining the HET was imperative.

"It is essential that we re-build public confidence in the HET. It is the only truth-recovery mechanism that we have.

"We cannot afford to lose the HET in the absence of any overall agreement on the past. Nor can we afford to undermine victim's access to the truth," added Mr McDevitt.

Last week the Policing Board announced it had no confidence in the leadership of the HET after allegations that it was not rigorous enough when questioning members of the security forces, was inconsistent, had serious shortcomings and risked losing the confidence of victims' families.

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