Sunday Business Post

Police watchdog lashes ten more RUC inquiries

25/01/04 00:00

By Paul T Colgan

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has uncovered more than ten RUC investigations, including several murder probes, in which RUC officers failed to examine vital evidence, follow up crucial leads or pass on intelligence to investigating officers, The Sunday Business Post has learned.

Nuala O'Loan's office will report on serious inadequacies in RUC investigations that run well into double figures, according to sources.

The investigations in question dealt with killings throughout the North.

It is believed that further criticisms from the ombudsman could force the British government to instigate a formal inquiry into the RUC's investigating culture. This follows O'Loan's damning assessment of the RUC's murder probe into the killing of prominent GAA man Sean Brown in 1997.

O'Loan concluded in her report on the Brown case that RUC officers had failed to pass on evidence for forensic examination, that they failed to interview a key witness, that Special Branch had held back vital intelligence from investigating officers, and that files relating to the murder inquiry went missing just weeks after her office began examining the case.

O'Loan described the disappearance of the files as "sinister".

"Other cases are up for investigation and they are shaping up to make similar findings," said a senior source. "Inadequate police investigations are not confined to the Brown case- the number of cases like this runs well into double figures."

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has launched a fresh investigation into the killing. However, Brown's relatives have initiated legal proceedings to stop it and are calling for an inquiry to be handled by outside officers.

O'Loan's report on the Brown investigation described it as "appalling and unprofessional" and said the ombudsman's office had uncovered "serious and unexplained errors". Brown (61) was abducted and shot dead by the LVF while locking up Bellaghy GAA club house in Derry.

The Police Ombudsman's office has exposed several high-profile cases of flawed RUC investigations.

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