Belfast Telegraph

Probe over police ombudsman claims

A former senior civil servant is to investigate claims that Government officials interfered in the work of the Police Ombudsman.

Justice Minister David Ford had promised a review of the claims that followed the shock resignation of the ombudsman's chief executive Sam Pollock, who was also allegedly the victim of false allegations after voicing his concerns.

It has now been confirmed that chairman of the Community Relations Council Tony McCusker, who retired from the civil service in August 2005, will conduct the review into the allegations made against Department of Justice civil servants.

Mr Ford said: "I am determined that this matter be addressed as urgently and robustly as possible.

"That is why, when announcing this independent review, I outlined the need for these serious allegations to be documented and substantiated as an important first step.

"Mr McCusker will now examine the issues raised and provide an initial report to the department by May 16 2011 on the allegations made."

In a statement the Justice Department said: "The review will initially gather evidence in respect of the allegations made against Department of Justice civil servants, specifically that: officials have interfered and meddled in the affairs and governance of the office, and officials have made false and malicious allegations against the chief executive."

The department said that Mr McCusker will provide an initial report to the minister and the department's permanent secretary on the allegations made and whether they warrant further investigation.

Mr Pollock resigned claiming the organisation's work has been unduly interfered with by civil servants and its investigators are not detached enough from the police.

The ombudsman considers claims of police misconduct in Northern Ireland and forms a key part of accountability mechanisms for the decade-old Police Service of Northern Ireland.

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