Solicitors acting on behalf of leading local community activist John Leathem say they intend to continue to fight for justice, despite the negative response of the Police Ombudsman’s office.
John Leathem lodged three complaints with the Ombudsman in relation to events that occurred at an Orange march along the Springfield Road on July 12, 2002.
It was during this period that John Leathem was arrested by the PSNI and held in the back of a Land Rover.
The community activist claims he was dragged along by his jacket and subjected to an unprovoked assault in which his glasses were broken and was then thrown into the back of the police land rover.
Whilst detained in the rear of the Land Rover, John Leathem says a male officer verbally abused him.
John had also complained to the Ombudsman’s office that while being held in the Land Rover a female officer accused him of being the instigator of the riot.
However, despite a two-year investigation that resulted in a file being submitted by the Ombudsman’s office to the DPP for consideration, Nuala O’Loan's office informed John this week that they would be taking no further action.
“I am angry at the way this matter has been dealt with. It has taken over two years and yet at the end I was given a conflicting report and told no action would be taken.
“I have instructed my solicitors to pursue this matter and have no intention of letting this be swept under the carpet.”
Solicitor Kevin Winters, who is acting on behalf of John Leathem, said the inconsistencies that have arisen from the Ombudsman’s office would form part of the ongoing case.
“As far as we are concerned John’s case continues,” says Kevin.
“We have very serious concerns about the inconsistencies that have arisen from the Ombudsman’s investigation.
“In June of this year John received a letter saying a file had been sent to the DPP. Despite the Ombudsman feeling that the case was serious enough to warrant this action, John was this month informed that they intended to take no further action,” added Kevin.
“We have asked for a copy of a statement written by a senior member of the PSNI that praises John Leathem over his handing of riotous situations.
“This has so far been refused. However, we intend to fully pursue this and the Ombudsman’s office continuing to refuse this could form the basis of a later case.
“Also John Leathem has lodged a claim against the PSNI for assault and we expect this to reach court early next year.
“We are deeply disappointed with the Police Ombudsman’s response to this matter, but as far as we are concerned John’s case goes on and we fully intend to take this further,” said Kevin.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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