Kelly withdraws civil writ in PSNI Land Rover obstruction case

Gerry Kelly during the incident last June.
Gerry Kelly during the incident last June.

Gerry Kelly has withdrawn a civil writ he had issued against the PSNI over an incident involving a police Land Rover in north Belfast.

In June last year, the Sinn Fein MLA was carried on the bonnet of the vehicle after he attempted to block the driver from leaving the scene of a republican protest in Carrick Hill.

It emerged last month that both Mr Kelly and the police driver involved had received “informed warnings” as an alternative to prosecution - one for obstruction and the other for driving without due care and attention.

It is not a conviction, but it does remain on an individual’s criminal record for 12 months.

Commenting on the action taken against the police driver, Terry Spence of the Police Federation said: “Had he not accepted this penalty, he would have been prosecuted in the criminal court. The officer believes he is innocent, but he doesn’t want the glare of publicity. He was put in a very difficult position.”

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Kelly said: “After careful thought I have instructed my solicitor to withdraw the civil writ against the chief constable of the PSNI in connection to an incident in Carrick Hill in June 2013. I believe the driver’s actions were both unacceptable and dangerous and this can be witnessed from the video released.

“I defend the right of any person to seek redress in such circumstances. It is entirely compatible with holding the police to account as I do on the Policing Board.”

He added: “However, the incident involved has unfortunately split opinion into two camps of unionist versus nationalist alongside elements in the media reducing the issue to one of money. Issuing the writ seems to have increased local political tension and created an unwanted diversion from more pressing issues.”