Agreed definition of collusion needed: UUP

Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman. (Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye)
Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman. (Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye)

There must be an agreed definition of the term collusion in the wake of a High Court ruling regarding the Loughinisland massacre, an Ulster Unionist MLA has claimed.

The police ombudsman has faced calls to quit after a judge found he exceeded his powers by declaring that RUC officers colluded with loyalists who murdered six Catholics 23 years ago.

In his damning verdict, Mr Justice McCloskey said the determination of police collusion in the 1994 atrocity was “unsustainable in law”.

He added that the language and structure of sections of the report were “careless, thoughtless and inattentive”.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie claimed the High Court judgement highlighted the need for a firm definition of collusion, which he had said has been “misappropriated” when it comes to the Troubles.

The party’s justice spokesperson added: “The casual use of terms such as collusion is not helpful and the definition has been stretched so wide on occasion as to render it almost meaningless, while at the same time having a serious detrimental impact on the likes of the PSNI and RUC in particular.

“I am in no doubt that it would be helpful - certainly in the context of the Troubles – if it was given an agreed definition.”

Unionist politicians have claimed Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire’s position was “untenable” and called on him to quit.

However, Dr Maguire has said he is “not considering” resigning.

Justice McCloskey will reconvene on January 12 to consider whether the ombudsman’s report should be formally quashed.