O’Loan definition of collusion ‘radically different’ to successor’s
Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has said that she used a radically different definition of collusion than that applied by Al Hutchinson.
Speaking yesterday, Baroness O’Loan refused to comment on Mr Hutchinson, her successor in the post.
But when their definitions are compared it is clear that the one used in the Loughinisland report is more difficult to prove than the one she applied in earlier investigations. Mr Hutchinson wrote in his report that “it must be shown that improper conduct was intentional” for a finding of collusion to be made.
He added: “Inadvertence, incompetence or even negligence or recklessness is not sufficient. There must be sufficient evidence of a conscious or deliberate act or omission by which police officers intended to assist offenders either in the commission of a crime or in evading detection or apprehension.”
Baroness O’Loan said she had defined it as “the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder”, a wording which was used by Sir John Stevens, the former Metropolitan police Commissioner, in his Northern Ireland reports.
This was, she said, similar to a definition drawn up by Judge Peter Cory in his reports on disputed killings. It included “ignoring or turning a blind eye to the wrongful acts of their servants or agents.”
Baroness O’Loan said it was up to the officers to justify their behaviour, for instance by showing that they were necessary to preserve life, and if they could not do so that constituted collusion.