‘Brass neck’ Gerry Kelly to sue chief constable over Land Rover incident

Gerry Kelly plans to sue the Chief Constable over this incident at Carrick Hill.
Gerry Kelly plans to sue the Chief Constable over this incident at Carrick Hill.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly has been accused of having “a brass neck” for plans to sue the chief constable after he was carried briefly on a police Land Rover which he was trying to stop during republican protests last June.

The MLA was attempting to block a Land Rover as he believed a Catholic teenage boy had been arrested by police and was being taken away after protests against an Orange parade in north Belfast.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott

Sinn Fein said yesterday that Mr Kelly, one of its representatives on the Policing Board, was to sue the PSNI.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “Gerry Kelly has taken a civil case against the PSNI chief constable (Matt Baggott) over the incident in Carrick Hill last year.

“Gerry Kelly, in common with any other citizen, is entitled to access the courts when he believes he has been wronged.”

But UUP justice spokesman Tom Elliott said Mr Kelly had “a brass neck” to sue the PSNI, adding that many people will be “questioning the cheek of the IRA bomber”.

He added: “The level to which Mr Kelly will stoop knows no bounds. He was protesting against an event, blocks a police Land Rover, thereby obstructing police, receives a police warning and now threatens to sue the police – what a nonsense!

“Mr Kelly, who was convicted over the IRA Old Bailey bomb which killed one person and injured over 200, and later escaped from the Maze Prison, with a prison officer being shot in the process, should hang his head in shame for his actions instead of making a claim. This is a convicted terrorist who has shown no remorse for his past actions.”

He hoped that Mr Kelly would not get legal aid.

DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds said it was “one of the most petty and small-minded actions ever witnessed from Sinn Fein”.

He added: “Gerry Kelly is a member of the Policing Board yet sees fit to waste further police time and resources with this civil case.

“Republicans have given support to the police but yet some members of Sinn Fein engage in posturing in an attempt to distract the most discontented elements.

“That can be the only explanation for this latest stunt, unless of course it is just a blatant attempt to perpetuate community tensions.”

Mr Kelly responded on Twitter: “Nigel Dodds is predictably petty. The issue remains that it is unacceptable and dangerous to drive off with any person on front of vehicle.”

The PSNI declined to make any comment on the matter.

But the Police Federation said Sinn Fein’s actions were “sheer hypocrisy”.

Chairman Terry Spence said: “This claim is risible and shows the extent to which the claim culture has taken root.”

He said Mr Kelly had accepted an ‘informed warning’ for his actions and claimed he had therefore no grounds for compensation.

“This is sheer hypocrisy, and it won’t go unnoticed that it was Mr Kelly’s party that questioned the payment of compensation to officers who’d suffered the life-long disability of hearing loss in the past.

“Mr Kelly should reconsider his decision. He’s entitled to make a claim, but not to bring the system into disrepute.

“If he doesn’t withdraw the claim, the hope is that it will be treated with the contempt it deserves.”

Last month the Sinn Fein MLA was given a formal reprimand after he was filmed attempting to halt the progress of the vehicle at the republican protest.

Commenting on Mr Kelly’s formal warning, Mr Spence claimed previously: “That was clearly an acceptance of his guilt.”

The video clip showed Mr Kelly being carried several yards while sprawled over the bonnet.

In recent weeks it was also revealed that the experienced PSNI driver – who is said to have more than 20 years’ service – had also been handed the same ‘informed warning’ penalty, angering Mr Spence.