Police Ombudsman's Office apologises for unjustified criticism of police officer

Published Date: 01.04.2010

The Police Ombudsman's Office has issued a formal apology to a police officer for aspects of its implied criticism of him in a report it published.

The Office has said it stands by the main findings of a report which found significant failings in the police investigation of murder of Sean Brown from Bellaghy in County Derry/Londonderry in 1997.

A senior police officer referred to in the report, which was published in 2004, complained to the Office that some of the criticisms it seemed to attribute to him had been unwarranted and unfair. This was because the failings referred to a period from July 1998 to 2000, when he was no longer in charge of the investigation to when he had retired from the police service

The former police officer made a complaint of maladministration to the Police Ombudsman's Office, saying he had been treated unfairly during the course of the investigation and that some of the later public comments which referred to his role were without substance.

The Police Ombudsman's Office appointed a senior member of staff who had not been involved in its original investigation to look at the way in which it had been reported.

That review has upheld the former officer's complaint and found that some of the failures attributed to the officer related to the period when he was no longer in charge of the investigation and were therefore unfair and unjustified.

The Office has said the former police officer had cooperated with the original Police Ombudsman investigation and the current Police Ombudsman has now formally apologised for the professional and personal hurt its public comments have caused him.

A spokesman said the Office has now put in place procedures to ensure that a similar failure will not happen again.


Note: Clarifications have been added to the Police Ombudsman's public statement and press release reflecting the issues raised by the retired officer referred to above.

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