Chief constable summoned to account for police involvement

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott

Chief Constable Matt Baggott and senior PSNI officers are to be summoned to the Policing Board for a special meeting to face questions about what they knew of the on the runs ‘administrative scheme’.

A request from DUP, UUP and independent board members, which last night received support from the SDLP, will see the PSNI’s political oversight body recalled “in as short a time frame as possible”.

The DUP group leader on the board, Jonathan Craig, said that the extraordinary meeting was necessary to hold the chief constable and senior officers of the PSNI to account for their role in the scheme.

He said: “These are very grave and serious issues at stake and it is essential that the PSNI give a full and accurate account of their role in this saga.

“The disgraceful revelation that this so-called administrative scheme was being carried out behind the backs of almost everyone in Northern Ireland bar Sinn Fein has caused serious damage to 
public confidence.”

He added: “Furthermore, it is essential, in the context of devolution of policing and justice powers that we establish under whose authority the PSNI were party to this administrative scheme.

“If not the justice minister or the Policing Board, just who were the police reporting to on these matters? Furthermore, why were they taking part in a scheme which has no mandate from Parliament nor legislative underpinning?”

Yesterday the News Letter reported comments from former acting PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Alan McQuillan where he said that his understanding of the situation was that PSNI officers believed their work on the scheme was for police purposes and was not going to the NIO or Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly welcomed the board meeting, saying there were “a lot of extremely serious and urgent questions that need to be answered”.

She said that she would want to know why the on the runs information was not given to the board.

She added: “The revelations surrounding on the runs also begs the question about what other schemes are in place that the NI Policing Board and the public should be made aware of.

“Many victims and their families have been unable to move on with their lives because they have lived in – what now appears to be – the false hope that they will get justice for their loved ones.”