Ombudsman’s office ‘did not release documents to Loughinisland documentary’

Six men were gunned down by UVF gunmen at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in June 1994
Six men were gunned down by UVF gunmen at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in June 1994

The office of the police ombudsman did not provide the makers of a documentary on the Loughinisland massacre with confidential information, the watchdog body has said.

In the film ‘No Stone Unturned,’ a Co Down man is named as a suspected UVF gunman involved in the mass murder – of six Catholic men while they watched a World Cup football match – at the Heights Bar in June 1994.

The documentary, by Oscar-winning film-maker Alex Gibney, was shown to the families of the victims at a special preview in the Co Down village on Friday night.

It also names a suspected second killer and the getaway driver, and contains other previously unpublished information about the PSNI investigation.

A PSNI assistant chief constable has said that “sensitive documents,” suspected of being used by the documentary makers, are believe to have “originated from within the Office of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (PONI)”.

A PONI spokesman on Friday told the News Letter that the ombudsman’s office “did not provide the makers of this documentary with information about the identity of individuals, nor did we authorise the release of information contained in intelligence documents”.

It is understood that the documents were posted to a journalist, unsolicited, a number of years ago.

A spokesman for PONI said the office would “fully cooperate” with an investigation into any documents reportedly received by a journalist, and added: “We welcome the PSNI’s continued commitment to catching the terrorists responsible and fully support their appeal for anyone with information about the murders to come forward.”

The spokesman added: “This office is continuing to examine concerns which arose during our Loughinisland investigation that certain RUC officers had relationships with and provided information to loyalist paramilitaries.”

Solicitor Niall Murphy, who has worked with the Loughinisland families over a number of years, said he has no concerns that the naming of suspects in the documentary would prejudice any future criminal investigation.

“The film does not impede the prospect of a conviction whatsoever,” Mr Murphy said.

“It is hoped that this fine piece of journalism will prove the catalyst in making the prosecuting authorities do what should have been done in the first place. There are many examples of this phenomenon.

“Any trial for these type of offences in this jurisdiction would be heard by a High Court judge sitting alone (a diplock Judge) and will be impervious to any media influences.”