16 August 2000
Remove blanket of secrecy on collusion
Sinn Fein North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly today called on the British Government to give the Ombudsman adequate access to past reports dealing with British Army and RUC collusion with loyalist death squads. Mr Kelly said:
``I recently I met with the Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan. I found the meeting useful and informative. I subsequently forwarded to the Ombudsman a copy of Sinn Fein's report into the Brian Nelson affair. The full details of all that is involved in the Nelson affair are in the possession of British Army Intelligence and the RUC Special Branch. This information should be made public.
``Under current British Government proposals, the Ombudsman's access to past reports will be greatly restricted. This includes reports which involve Brian Nelson, British Intelligence and the RUC, along with multiple killings including that of solicitor Pat Finucane.
``The British Government must remove the blanket of secrecy on all of these matters and permit the Ombudsman adequate access to reports such as the Stalker, Stevens and Samson reports into shoot-to-kill and collusion.'' ENDS
Notes to Editor
Current British Government proposals (Clause 62 of the Police Bill) are drawn up to prevent any retrospective work on the part of the Ombudsman. If an incident took place before a prescribed time (which according to the Implementation Plan will be 24months maximum) he/she may NOT:
- Investigate complaints against individual police officers;
- Investigate any reports made by the Chief Constable at the request of the Board; or
- Commence a formal inquiry.
If interpreted widely, this will undermine an enormous potential of the Ombudsman's work. For example, this could be interpreted as excluding her from dealing with complaints about cases that are `old' but are still ongoing. The continuing controversies surrounding the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane are a case in point.
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