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Senior police officer settles alleged discrimination case

Published 27/11/2015

Will Kerr claimed discrimination relating to his handling of the Union Flag issue
Will Kerr claimed discrimination relating to his handling of the Union Flag issue

One of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers, who missed out on a top job, has settled an alleged discrimination case.

Will Kerr's employment tribunal against the Northern Ireland Policing Board was due to be heard next week.

But a spokeswoman for the Policing Board, which makes police appointments, confirmed the case had been closed.

She said: "The Northern Ireland Policing Board and Mr Kerr have settled the case between them on mutually acceptable terms and as such the claim shall not proceed to a hearing next week."

Mr Kerr unsuccessfully applied to become Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) last year, but lost out to Drew Harris.

The veteran policeman alleged some unionists who sit on the Policing Board were biased against his application because of his handling of the union flag dispute.

The controversial decision by Belfast City Council to restrict the number of days it flies the Union flag over the City Hall sparked weeks of street protests from hundreds of loyalists in December 2012.

As the officer in charge of policing the pickets, Mr Kerr bore the brunt of loyalist anger.

His handling of the situation was criticised in a court decision, but was later overturned on appeal.

He now heads up of the powerful crime operations unit which handles major investigations, organised crime and special operations.

According to the Department of Employment and Learning, Mr Kerr's hearing fair employment tribunal had been listed for December 8 and was based on allegations of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief/political opinion.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Drew Harris was also mired in political controversy after Sinn Fein members of the Policing Board withdrew from the selection process.

The former Royal Ulster Constabulary officer authorised the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and also ordered the legal battle to recover taped confessions by loyalist and republican paramilitaries which were given to Boston College for an oral history project.

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