Belfast Telegraph

Independent probe of woman's murder in 1972 established

Shot: Jean Smyth-Campbell
Shot: Jean Smyth-Campbell
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The outgoing Chief Constable has honoured his pledge to arrange an independent investigation into the 1972 death of a Belfast mother before he leaves office.

Jean Smyth-Campbell (24) was shot dead while sitting in a car on the Glen Road in west Belfast on June 8.

Her death was originally blamed on the IRA, but the Military Reaction Force, a secretive Army unit, was later suspected.

Court of Appeal judges ruled in March - known as the McQuillan judgment - that PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton was under an obligation to investigate Ms Smyth-Campbell's death in a way that meets human rights requirements.

The investigation will be led by outgoing Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

Mr Hamilton said yesterday: "I recognise the frustration of Jean's family and representatives at the lack of progress in this case and I am deeply sorry there were previous investigative failures into the circumstances surrounding her death. Without prejudice to my intention to seek leave to appeal elements of the McQuillan judgment, I have now directed that an effective and practically independent investigation, with the capacity to be Article 2 ECHR compliant begins into the death.

"Incoming Chief Constable Simon Byrne will retain responsibility for and accountability to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, with Chief Constable Jon Boutcher as the officer in overall charge of the investigation."

Mr Boutcher is leading the Operation Kenova inquiry on possible crimes by paramilitaries, agents and Army and police handlers linked to the agent Stakeknife.

The investigation into Ms Smyth-Campbell's death forms no part of Operation Kenova.

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