Why did HET not probe Sinn Fein, asks Ulster Unionist

Tom Elliott
Tom Elliott

Pressure on the head of the Historical Enquiries Team to resign is partly due to republican “rewriting” of history which takes no account of the organisation’s reluctance to interview republicans about over 2,000 murders, the UUP claimed last night.

The pressure on Dave Cox to go follows a highly critical inspection report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary which said the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) was acting illegally by investigating deaths involving Army soldiers with less rigour than cases with no state involvement.

The Policing Board is determined that Mr Cox should leave at the end of this month as new leadership is installed.

But Chief Constable Matt Baggott wishes him to stay on until December.

UUP Justice spokesman Tom Elliott said last night: “Why were these soldiers being investigated at all? In any HET cases I have been involved in we were told they can only review cases and can’t investigate. I have often asked HET to go back to ask members of Sinn Fein or convicted IRA members for more information about certain murders. But HET kept telling us it was not their job to reinvestigate.

“By contrast it is clear they were actively investigating these soldiers.”

Mr Elliott said he would be carrying his argument into cross-party Haass talks on dealing with the past.

“Dealing with the past must not focus on one side of the community,” he said. “Some 3,000 murders in the Troubles were committed by terrorists and 2,148 of those by republicans. If the IRA killed 60 per cent of people, then 60 per cent of investigative resources should be allocated to those deaths.”

A PSNI spokeswoman responded: “HET has worked through a process reviewing the oldest cases first, however if any cases provided evidential opportunities they were prioritised. As of the start of 2013 financial year, HET has so far passed 39 cases to the PSNI for further investigation, 26 of which relate to republican paramilitaries and 13 for which loyalist paramilitaries were responsible.”

Sinn Fein said confidence in HET is “non-existent”.