Belfast Telegraph

Loughinisland report 'unlawful': Police Ombudsman urged to resign after court rules massacre report unfair

A report which found RUC officers colluded with loyalists who massacred six Catholic men has been ruled unlawful and procedurally unfair.

Mr Justice McCloskey held that Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman went beyond his statutory powers in reaching conclusions on the Loughinisland atrocity which are unsustainable in law.

He also found that none of the police officers subjected to "destructive and withering condemnations" of colluding with UVF terrorists in the Heights Bar attack had the protection of due process.

Sinn Fein's Chris Hazzard stated that there is bitter disappointment at Thursday's court ruling which was heavily criticised the Police Ombudsman's report into the Loughinisland massacre.

Commenting after the court case, he said: "There is a wealth of evidence already established regarding the scale of state collusion with the loyalist paramilitaries who carried out the Loughinisland massacre.

"And it's important to state that the judge did not controvert any of the facts that were in the original Ombudsman's report. The car used in the attack was still destroyed, interview notes were still destroyed, suspects were still protected.

"Today’s ruling does not change any of that and Sinn Féin will continue to support the Loughinisland families in their campaign for truth and justice."

UUP MLA Alan Chambers said that the Police Ombudsman should resign in the wake of the High Court ruling.

He stated: "Today's High Court ruling regarding the Police Ombudsman’s report in to Loughinisland is a devastating blow to the credibility of that office to the extent that I believe that the Police Ombudsman’s position is now untenable, and he should resign. 

“The Loughinisland massacre in June 1994 was one of the most chilling and shocking crimes of the Troubles when six innocent men were gunned down by the UVF purely because they were Catholics.

“Last year the Police Ombudsman found that there was collusion between the RUC and the terrorists. This was a massive statement to make and caused a great deal of controversy at the time.

“Today a High Court Judge has ruled that this ruling of police collusion was beyond the Police Ombudsman's legal powers and was 'unsustainable in law."

The Ulster Unionist Policing spokesperson added: “Mr Justice McCloskey also said authors of the Loughinisland report were ‘careless, thoughtless and inattentive in the language and structuring of the document’ and that the police officers deemed to have colluded with the gunmen were ‘in effect tried and convicted without notice in their absence.

"Some people seem to ignore the fact that the Police – serving and retired - are entitled to justice and fairness too.

“Allegations of collusion have been used to smear the reputation of the RUC and question the credibility of the justice system in Northern Ireland. For the Police Ombudsman’s Office to be the source of a report that has been so comprehensively rejected by the High Court should be a matter of huge embarrassment for the Ombudsman, and he should do the right thing and go now.”

SDLP Policing and Legacy spokesperson Dolores Kelly MLA has repeated the party's call for justice.

She said: "Today's judgement is bitterly disappointing and will feel like a blow to those families who have campaigned for justice for over twenty years.

"The primary focus of all parties must be on securing truth, justice and accountability for the victims of this atrocity. It is disappointing again that some have chosen to seek headlines rather than support victims and survivors.

"The SDLP will continue to seek a comprehensive and ethical process for dealing with the past. That includes a fiercely independent Police Ombudsman's Office."

South Down MLA Colin McGrath added: "This is a difficult day for the Loughinisland families who have given everything in pursuit of truth and justice for their loved ones.

"We will study today's judgement in detail over the coming days and work with the families to chart the best way forward."

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