Top RUC man slams the police ombudsman over historic probes into the force and what he says are misleading findings of collusion

One of Northern Ireland’s most distinguished former RUC officers has launched a blistering attack on the police ombudsman.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 7:11 am
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 2:41 pm
Former RUC Assistant Chief Constable Raymond White, who was head of Special Branch

Ray White, who was head of RUC Special Branch, says that Marie Anderson’s office is continuing to tar former police officers with misleading findings of having colluded with loyalist terrorists.

Writing in today’s News Letter (see below), Mr White says that the courts have previously ruled that retired police cannot be found to have engaged in collusion without due process.

Mr White says that the recent report into the 1993 murder of Damien Walsh in effect continues to tarnish the police in that way, despite no officer having been arrested for, or charged with, any offence of assisting his loyalist killers.

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He says that the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is in effect side stepping the collusion parameters by using a new phrase, ‘collusive behaviour’.

This, he says, is seized on by the media and leaves the impression that police assisted the terrorists.

“We were led to believe by the courts that this trashing of the reputation of former RUC officers, against whom there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, would not happen.”

Mr White also says that it took 17 years to produce a report on a murder 28 years ago, and that ex-police face disgraceful delays in probes.

Former assistant chief constable White writes: “No amount of reference to this flagrant abuse by the ombudsman, has ever raised any concerns within the Department of Justice, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate or any other human rights focused organisation.”

The News Letter sent the ombudsman’s office a summary of Mr White’s main points, so they could respond.

On the basis of that summary, but without having been able to see his entire essay, an ombudsman spokesperson replied: “The police ombudsman recognises that the timescale of this investigation is longer than anyone would want.

“However, there have been a number of factors which have contributed to this delay including the long-standing under-resourcing of history investigations, issues around the disclosure of information during the course of the investigation and the legal proceedings issued by Mr White and Mr Hawthorne following the former police ombudsman’s 2016 public statement relating to a complaint from the Loughinisland families.

“The Court of Appeal judgment was received in 2020 after protracted legal proceedings. The 2020 Court of Appeal judgment confirmed that it would have been appropriate for the ombudsman to acknowledge where matters uncovered were largely what families claimed constituted collusive behaviour. The ombudsman’s reference to collusive behaviour has had due regard for this judgment in light of the ombudsman’s duty to investigate the complaint of collusion raised by Mrs Walsh.

“The ombudsman is confident that the public statement is entirely within the boundaries of the Court of Appeal judgment, and that her investigation complied with the obligations for procedural fairness for retired officers which were clarified in an earlier judgment by the High Court.

“Mr White states that no police officers were recommended for prosecution, which is entirely correct. This does not, however, negate the fact that the Walsh family were let down by investigative failures and collusive behaviours as identified by the police ombudsman’s investigation.”

• See pages 14 and 15

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