Police ombudsman should quit over ‘biased’ report: MP

The Police Ombudsman's Office said there is no 'logical reason' for Michael Maguire to consider his position
The Police Ombudsman's Office said there is no 'logical reason' for Michael Maguire to consider his position

A senior DUP MP has called for the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire to resign after “mistakes” in a report on Loughinisland massacre.

The High Court heard on Friday that the police ombudsman would ensure that all inferred references to Ronald Hawthorne, a former sub-divisional commander in Downpatrick, are removed from his report into the loyalist killing spree.

The amendments are being made to ensure he is not connected to any alleged wrongdoing.

Mr Hawthorne had challenged the legality of the initial ombudsman’s report, and Mr Justice McCloskey said his legal challenge “has succeeded in full”.

Counsel for the retired police commander, David McMillen QC, had told the court: “In effect the ombudsman has completely surrendered in Mr Hawthorne’s case and is withdrawing the criticism of Mr Hawthorne.”

The report had centred on alleged state collusion in events surrounding the loyalist killing of six Catholic men, shot in a pub in Loughinisland, Co Down, in 1994.

DUP MP for East Antrim Sammy Wilson said: “Removing the references was the least that could have been done, what should have been done was that (Michael) Maguire should have resigned his post.

“People have to take responsibility when mistakes are made.

“If anybody else in his position had allowed such a report to go out not only should the report have been scrapped but its author should have been scrapped as well.”

He criticised Mr Maguire for allowing “such a biased, unsubstantiated and damaging piece of work” to be published in the name of his organisation.

He added: “Apart from anything else he diminished the role of the police ombudsman’s office because it simply confirms the views that many people have that there is anti police bias in it.”

A spokesman for the ombudsman’s office said there was no “logical reason” for Dr Maguire to consider his position.

He said: “The amendments do not change the findings of the Loughinisland report.

“They simply make it clearer that the finding of collusion does not apply to the former Downpatrick sub-divisional commander, Ronald Hawthorne. We are happy to provide that clarification.

“The report still has the same findings, based on the same analysis of the same evidence that it did when first published.

“It is also hard to understand the allegation that the office has an anti-police bias. To date the office has published 14 reports on historical matters in which police collusion was alleged. Eleven of those reports found no evidence of collusion.

“There is no logical reason for the police ombudsman to consider his position.”

Before becoming police ombudsman in July 2012, Dr Maguire had been the chief inspector of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate in Northern Ireland.