PSNI whistleblower tribunal adjourned after ‘critical’ document appears ‘out of the ether’

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr was giving evidence at the tribunal on Wednesday

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr was giving evidence at the tribunal on Wednesday

A key document which appeared “out of the ether” has led to a high-profile tribunal taken by two whistleblowing detectives against the PSNI to be adjourned.

The legal team representing the two officers claiming victimisation by their employer – Geoff Ferris and Conor McStravick – said it was the first time they’d seen the “critical” document and immediately called for more time to weigh up its implications.

The tribunal hinges on allegations that Mr Ferris and Mr McStravick were “bullied and harrassed” by the PSNI to take up a post in Strand Road station in Londonderry that neither of them wanted.

According to the claimants’ QC Frank O’Donaghue, no documentation of the recruitment process which led to the two officers being singled out for transfer had ever been presented until Wednesday.

Both officers, in giving evidence earlier this week, described the move as “punishment” for disclosures they’d made in 2011 about a senior officer.

The document was presented to the tribunal on Wednesday morning when ACC Will Kerr took to the stand to give evidence in the case.

Mr Kerr was involved in the recruitment process and he had begun answering questions relating to the document when Mr O’Donaghue interrupted with a legal challenge.

He said the document was critical and had it emerged earlier, it could have led to an alternative resolution.

Tribunal vice president Noel Kelly said the document appeared to have come “out of the ether”, adding it was “scandalous” for it to emerge so far into a trial.

Later on Wednesday the tribunal was informed that police had served the document to the claimants’ solicitors on August 16.

The tribunal was adjourned until November 29.