Belfast Telegraph

OTRS: Chief Constable George Hamilton's statement on Westminster inquiry

Responding to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report on the administrative scheme for ‘on-the-runs’, the Chief Constable George Hamilton has issued the following statement:

“The report sets out the broader context to the scheme. It is important to remember that police played a crucial role but did not have an overview of the administrative scheme. I welcome the report’s acknowledgement that police carried out their task with appropriate diligence during the early years of the scheme. I also welcome the report’s acknowledgement that speeding up the scheme in 2007 made it more difficult for thorough and competent reviews to be carried out and that PSNI knew nothing about the content of letters sent to suspects until December 2011.

“The report recommends that our current review of On-The-Run (OTR) cases, Operation Redfield, is not a normal policing role and, as such, should be provided with additional funds to ensure the work is undertaken swiftly. This review is a complicated, lengthy and labour-intensive process. Work has started on the 36 cases which the NIAC Report and Lady Justice Hallett suggested should be prioritised, however the thorough review work which is needed will require both time and resources.

“I want to repeat our commitment to dealing with the past professionally and comprehensively: where there are lines of enquiry we believe can be progressed through the criminal justice process, then we will investigate in accordance with Article 2 of the ECHR and Section 32 of the Police (NI) Act 2000.

“But I have to balance this responsibility with my requirement to keep people safe in the present day. As I have said before, this process goes far beyond policing. We will continue to play our part and continue to encourage others to play theirs. Additional funding as recommended in this report would greatly assist police investigations into these cases, despite competing current financial demands.

“I want to once again apologise to the victims of the Hyde Park bomb attack and their families for the mistakes which occurred in the case of John Downey which led to his criminal trial being aborted last year. I apologise unreservedly for the mistakes and errors made by PSNI during the administrative process."

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