Belfast Telegraph

PSNI are quizzed over secret Arlene Arkinson files

By David Young

Police have pledged to explain to a coroner why they blanked out sections of files relating to the disappearance of a murdered schoolgirl.

Lawyers for a convicted child killer who is set to give evidence at the inquest of Arlene Arkinson (15) had criticised officers for failing to provide a rationale for the redactions, which, they claim, have rendered the papers useless.

Arlene, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, vanished after a night out at a disco across the border in Co Donegal in 1994.

Eleven years later killer Robert Howard, who was the last person seen with her, was acquitted of her murder.

The trial jury was unaware of his history of sex attacks and his conviction for strangling London teen Hannah Williams in 2001.

A preliminary inquest hearing before senior coroner John Leckey in Belfast yesterday was told that PSNI was compiling a document that would explain why certain segments of the files were blanked out. Lawyer for the coroner Frank O'Donoghue QC said he had received a "helpful letter" from the PSNI committing to provide explanation why certain facts were edited out on the basis of articles in the European Convention on Human Rights protecting the right to life and right to privacy.

Mr O'Donoghue said once the police rationale was received he would assess a "number of options" regarding the release of that document to lawyers representing Howard and those representing Arlene's family.

Belfast Telegraph


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