Anger at degree for Patten

01/03/2005 - 14:15:34

The University of Ulster was fiercely criticised today for its decision to confer an honorary degree on Chris Patten, one of the architects of police reform in Northern Ireland.

Jimmy Spratt, former chairman of the Police Federation, said it was a disgrace that the university made the announcement on the day relatives and colleagues were remembering nine RUC officers murdered in an IRA mortar bomb attack in Newry 20 years ago.

Patten, who chaired the Independent Commission on Policing which made 175 recommendations for reform of the RUC, will be given an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

When he presented the commission’s report, he said they had tried to “ensure that any past mistakes are not repeated and to minimise any prospect of abuses such as those alleged to have taken place in the past”.

But Mr Spratt, who accused him of wrecking policing in Northern Ireland, said he would be writing to the university to express his opposition to its decision.

He said: “I find it disgraceful that the University of Ulster should confer a degree on someone like Chris Patten who destroyed the finest police force in the world.”

Mr Spratt, who retired from the police service three years ago, claimed the Patten Report created a system of recruitment which discriminated against young Protestants and destroyed the North’s intelligence system.

“I think it was very insensitive to announce it on the day that families were remembering their dead loved ones.”

A University of Ulster spokesman stressed that Patten was being honoured for his contribution to public life and education.

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