Article by Gerry Moriarty from todays Irish Times
The PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton and other senior officers have rejected allegations that they were guilty of “criminality and misconduct” in the investigation of corruption claims against other senior officers.Mr Hamilton, the Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton are among a number of PSNI officers being investigated by the North’s Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire. They said yesterday that they “completely refute” the claims.
Dr Maguire has declared the matter to be a “critical incident”, which means it is “an issue the outcome of which could have a significant impact on the person making the complaint, on the police or on the wider community”.
The inquiry could take more than a year to complete, it is estimated. The officers, three of them the PSNI’s top brass, have not been suspended and are not standing down pending the outcome of the inquiry.
The ombudsman’s inquiry relates to an investigation into concerns about the way in which the PSNI conducted an investigation into allegations of bribery and misconduct in public office in 2014.
Nine people were arrested in connection with that investigation, including former PSNI assistant chief constable Duncan McCausland and the former chief constable of West Yorkshire Police Mark Gilmore, a native of Belfast and also a former senior RUC and PSNI officer. All nine denied any wrongdoing.Ultimately, no cases were taken against Mr McCausland, Mr Gilmore or the seven others.
It could take well into 2018 before the investigation is completed, the chief constable hoped the ombudsman’s work would be carried out speedily.
Separately, Mr McCausland, Mr Gilmore and the seven others are taking a case for damages for wrongful arrest against the force. The PSNI said it would defend all these cases.
The ombudsman has appointed a special team to look into the claims against Mr Hamilton and the other officers.