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Sinn Féin reject Orde response to collapse of Hoey Trial

11 January, 2008

Sinn Féin policing spokesperson, South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has said that Sinn Féin can not accept Hugh Orde's response to the judgement following the collapse of the Sean Hoey/Omagh trial.

Mr Maskey said:

"Following the collapse of the Sean Hoey trial and the damning indictment of the prosecution case by Justice Weir, who severely criticised police witnesses, Sinn Fein sought an urgent meeting of the Policing Board and a formal response from the Chief Constable. The meeting was held last week on Thursday 3rd July.

"Hugh Orde and two colleagues gave a presentation to the Board. In my view it was little more than a re-run of the trial prosecution case. The Chief Constable did not accept any of Justice Weir's criticisms and argued that he would have no hesitation in putting the same case based on the same evidence forward again.

"While Orde acknowledged that Justice Weir raised serious issues about the two named officers, Cooper and Marshal, he said that he would await the outcome of the Police Ombudsman's Report. On this basis I advised the Chief Constable that we could not accept his response to the trial judgement.

"Sinn Féin proposed that the Board carry out a complete review of the Omagh investigation from start to finish including a review of all the reports which flowed from it. We also need the Ombudsman's report in respect of the named officers and any others who may have been involved in the falsifying of court statements. The Board has also agreed to ask the judge to elaborate on his comment that others may have been involved in the statements episode.

"Fundamental questions were raised during the trial and by the judgement that must be addressed by the PSNI and the Forensic Science Service.

"For example, I understand that during the trial Det Marshall named up to four police officers who may have 'encouraged' him to change his statement and this information should be provided to Policing Board. Ms Cooper also told the court that she could not have changed her statement as she had been in Zambia at the time in question.
"Sinn Féin are not just interested in the two named officers because it is our belief that more senior officers were involved. No matter what rank of officer was involved in wrongdoing there can be no place for them in the PSNI.

"Hugh Orde's response to date has been totally unacceptable, particularly the refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the issues raised during the trial and by the judgement in relation to PSNI officers 'beefing up' statements and evidence.

"The Board has as yet to agree the precise terms of the review but I am satisfied for now that it will appoint an external expert to conduct a full review of the investigation. Sinn Féin will insist that this includes the original December 2001Ombudsman's report, the Board's February 2002 response to it; the Blakey, Crompton, Steven 3 and HMIC Reports; the trial judgement, the next Ombudsman report and any further comments on his judgement from Justice Weir.

"The board will then establish how the various recommendations made in the reports have been dealt with and establish what wrongdoing has been carried out by police officers in order to ensure appropriate action is taken against them, including possible prosecution.

"Sinn Féin are committed to the delivery of our mandate on policing by working with the PSNI and have been involved in a substantive engagement with the PSNI for most of last year. The clear and critical terms of our engagement are to both deliver an effective police service and to hold the police to account.

"The issues raised by the role of PSNI officers in this case go to the heart of attempts to build a police service and justice system that is capable of delivering justice. When those who are charged with upholding the law break or bend the law justice is the first casualty." ENDS

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