Son of murdered RUC officer backs ombudsman in files row

Gavin Larmour whose RUC officer father John Larmour was murdered by the IRA in 1988
Gavin Larmour whose RUC officer father John Larmour was murdered by the IRA in 1988

The son of an RUC man shot dead by the IRA has backed the Police Ombudsman’s (PONI) attempts to have secret files released by the PSNI.

Earlier this week it was revealed that ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has taken legal action in an effort to acquire police reports on more than 60 deaths.

Gavin Larmour was just 13 when his police constable father John Larmour was gunned down in an ice cream parlour in south Belfast 26 years ago.

His own painstaking research into the murder over many years has convinced him that Special Branch officers withheld information from the CID investigation team to protect an informant.

He now believes there is renewed hope of a thorough investigation.

“It seems to me that the PSNI are actually blocking the investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. The only reason I can think of is to protect informers.

“Thankfully Michael Maguire has taken some action in an effort to get the necessary information he needs to complete his own investigation,” he said.

“It will be 26 years this October since my father was shot which is effectively a full life sentence – and I’m still no closer to getting any truth or justice.

“At the Policing Board meeting this week Matt Baggott said dealing with the past was ‘debilitating and toxic’, which is exactly what my experience of dealing with the PSNI has been.”

According to the ombudsman, the PSNI has refused him access to information relating to 60 murders where there are serious concerns over the behaviour of police officers.

The PSNI claims their decision not to hand over the information is based on their own legal advice – and that they are currently “seeking to agree a solution with PONI around these complicated, and sometimes unfortunately competing, legal issues”.

The police spokesman added that they take their legal responsibility for the care and management of all information “extremely seriously”.

However, former ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan has also backed Dr Maguire’s stance. She told BBC’s The View programme: ”The chief constable is under duty to pass the information over.

“The responsibility is then on the police ombudsman to take such measures as are necessary to protect the lives of any informants.”