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PSNI tribunal adjourned for document to be 'explored'

By Cate McCurry

Published 27/10/2016

Testimony: Will Kerr leaving court
Testimony: Will Kerr leaving court

The surprise emergence of a document at an industrial tribunal examining allegations that a detective was the subject of a "conspiracy" involving high-ranking PSNI officers has been branded scandalous.

The case is being taken by Detective Sergeant Geoff Ferris, who coaxed a confession out of double killer Hazel Stewart, and Detective Inspector Conor McStravick. The two officers claim there was a "conspiracy" against them involving senior figures, including Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr, after they reported wrongdoing by senior officers.

They allege they were unfairly pressured into accepting a position at Strand Road police station in Derry - one regarded as a "punishment" rather than a promotion.

But minutes before yesterday's hearing started, an application form for priority promotion was produced by a barrister for the PSNI and submitted as evidence.

During Mr Kerr's cross-examination, he said the application form regarding posts in the north west was filled out by Mr McStravick. Asked to explain what concerns Mr McStravick stated he would have about moving to the north west, Mr Kerr said: "The summary of what he said is that it would have limited impact on him. He said he is well attuned to local policing in that area. It's a very compelling application.

"He talks about the public confidence of policing and the positive impact he could have and all the experience he could bring."

However, the claimant's barrister, Frank O'Donoghue QC, said he had not been made aware of the document before the hearing.

And the tribunal's vice chairman Noel Kelly slammed the delay in producing the document saying it was a "waste of taxpayers' money".

He said: "For it to emerge just before the cross-examination of the relevant witness is scandalous. I don't want to lose time or waste taxpayers' money. The document appears to suggest a procedure of some sort and that needs to be explored."

The case was adjourned until November 29.

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